A Brexit Freedoms Bill in today’s Queen’s Speech promises to “seize the benefits” of EU withdrawal by making it easier to relax regulations – but gives no examples of Brussels rules the government would scrap.
Six years after the UK voted to leave the EU and two years after its formal withdrawal, Boris Johson’s government has yet to deliver the bonfire of Brussels red tape promised by the Leave campaign.
Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg was reduced to appealing to newspaper readers for ideas on what rules and regulations could be reformed or abolished.
The Bill unveiled today promises to “seize the benefits of Brexit by ensuring regulation fits the needs of the UK, which in turn will enable economic growth”.
But there is no mention of business concerns that deviation from EU regulation may in many cases increase the burden of red tape by forcing firms to comply with two separate – and possibly conflicting – regimes.
More than 1,400 pieces of EU-derived law were transferred into UK law as part of the Brexit settlement, in order to prevent a chaotic “legal black hole” in the immediate aftermath of withdrawal.
The new bill will allow the amendment or repeal of many of these measures to be rushed through by using “secondary legislation”, which can be enacted by ministers without full parliamentary scrutiny. Government sources said this would save “decades of parliamentary time”, but critics fear it hands too much power to the executive to institute changes with potential profound implications.
The legislation will also remove the principle of supremacy of EU law, which still applies to 2,376 acts of parliament passed before Brexit.
Government sources said this would “assert the sovereignty of parliament” and ensure that “there is no higher law than an act of parliament”.
Mr Johnson said the bill would allow the UK to “get on with growing our economy by making the most of our Brexit freedoms” and would “attract business and investment and encourage innovation by making the UK the best regulated economy in the world”.