Blog: Brexit bonfire of EU laws: More Tories expected to join rebellion – iNews

More Tories are on Monday expected to join a rebellion to ensure MPs – not ministers – have the final say on the Brexit so-called bonfire of EU laws at the end of the year, i has been told.

Brexit Secretary, David Davis, and ex-Cabinet minister Sir Robert Buckland are among Tory MPs involved in a cross-party move to ensure Parliament has the final say on which Brussels regulations are scrapped under the EU Retained Law Bill, which sets a 31 December deadline for the expiration of all Brussels regulation in the UK.

A source close to their discussions told i that more Tories were likely to join their ranks before the Bill is debated by MPs on Wednesday.

Tory Eurosceptics are understood to be broadly happy with the legislation, despite warnings from Jacob Rees-Mogg against backsliding on the deadline, having received assurances from the Government that provisions to extend the so-called “sunset” for EU laws to 2026 for certain bits of regulation would only be used in exceptional cases.

But Mr Davis and Sir Robert, alongside Labour’s Stella Creasy and other cross-party MPs, are concerned that the Bill will hand ministers the freedom to abolish 4,000 laws on issues from workers’ rights to environmental protection with little oversight.

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They have tabled an amendment to ensure ministers reveal what laws they are planning to scrap. MPs would then have the power to remove some of the proposed laws from the list.

It comes as lawyers warn the Government may have no choice but to delay the scrapping of EU laws or risk losing many workers’ rights in a legal vacuum.

They said laws at risk of suddenly disappearing include basics that many take for granted such as the right to paid annual leave, because ministers are running out of time before the 31 December deadline.

To prepare for the switch, ministers and their officials need to have gone through all the European laws and regulations to decide what they want to keep, replace or discard.

But the Employment Lawyers Association (ELA) does not believe the Government has time to complete this huge exercise before the Act of Parliament comes into force at midnight on 31 December and wipes out a vast array of EU law.

UK workers and the legal system that enforces their rights would then be left in limbo, because there would be no British rules ready to replace the European based regime.

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Paul MacFarlane, ELA chairman, emphasised his association’ strict apolitical approach, and said: “In a nutshell, this Bill, as currently drafted, will leave large swathes of employment law unclear and uncertain. The reason why is twofold.

“Firstly, the sunset provision means our regulations derived from EU law fall unless the Government reinstates them by 31 December.

“Then, there’s an awful lot of regulation that needs to be reviewed. Around 500 relate to employment law. The Government has to decide whether to accept the current EU derived legislation, replace it with something else, or [have] no law in a specific area instead.”

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill will scrap around 4,000 laws derived from Brussels, including around 500 protections for workers including equal pay for women, the 48-hour limit on weekly working hours and parental rights.

A source close to Business Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “Grant Shapps is focussed on ensuring there is democratic British accountability for our laws. This won’t remove fundamental protections. It’s about ensuring that our laws are made in Britain, for the benefit of those in Britain.

“The new Bill will put these fundamental rights into domestic law where they belong.”

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A Government spokesman added: “This Government has no intention of abandoning our strong record on workers’ rights, having raised domestic standards over recent years to make them some of the highest in the world.

“The Retained EU Law Bill will enable us to grasp important opportunities provided by Brexit and move away from outdated EU laws to establish our own rules for how we live and govern our lives in Britain.”

Amid speculation that the Government could delay the deadline, another spokesman added: “The programme to review, revoke and reform retained EU law is underway and there are no plans to change the 2023 sunset deadline in the Retained EU Law Bill.

“The PM made clear at the Liaison Committee last month that he wants to progress this work to look at what we keep and what we change ‘as quickly as possible’ to provide certainty to people and to move away from outdated EU laws so our own rules determine how we live and govern our lives in Britain.”

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