House of Lords 'will force PM to abandon plans on scrapping EU laws'

House of Lords 'will force PM to abandon plans on scrapping EU laws'

January 2, 2023

Jacob Rees-Mogg warns Rishi Sunak not to ‘give in to unelected Remainers in the House of Lords’ after it’s claimed peers will force PM to abandon plans to scrap EU laws by the end of this year

  • Rishi Sunak warned not to ‘give in to unelected Remainers’ in the House of Lords
  • PM will reportedly be forced to push back plans to scrap EU laws by end of year
  • The Government is committed to reviewing all Brussels legislation by 31st Dec.

Rishi Sunak has been warned not to ‘give in to unelected Remainers in the House of Lords’ after it was claimed peers could force him to delay plans to scrap EU laws.

The Government has committed to reviewing all retained Brussels legislation by the end of this year under plans set out in the ‘Brexit freedoms bill’.

It means any remaining EU law that is not expressly kept by ministers – or changed into domestic law – will automatically expire and be removed from the statute book by 31 December.

Concerns have been raised about the size of the task in sifting through up to 4,000 pieces of legislation over the next 12 months in order to meet that deadline.

And it has now emerged that the Government could concede to critics and push back the 2023 deadline when the bill goes through the House of Lords.

Three Whitehall departments are reportedly ready to extend the deadline – the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Department for Transport, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – until 2026, which is already provided for in the bill. 

‘I can’t see it [the deadline] surviving,’ a senior Government source told The Times.

‘We’ll have to compromise when it gets to the Lords. If the object is to review all these regulations properly rather than just cut and paste them into UK law then we’ll need more time.

‘It’s an entirely arbitrary deadline. We’re going to have to make a concession to get it through.’

The House of Lords could force the Prime Minister to delay plans to scrap EU laws by the end of this year

Rishi Sunak told the House of Commons’ Liaison Committee last month that he wanted to move ‘as quickly as possible’ with the process

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former business secretary, warned the PM not to ‘give in to unelected Remainers in the House of Lords’

An ongoing Government audit of retained EU law has so far found more than 2,400 pieces of legislation

But Mr Rees-Mogg – the ex-business secretary who introduced the formally titled Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill before resigning from Government in October – urged the Prime Minister not to push back the deadline. 

He said: ‘There is no reason to give in to the unelected Remainers in the House of Lords who have consistently wanted to thwart Brexit.

‘Repealing EU law and replacing it with domestic law seven years after we voted to Leave is not especially ambitious and departments ought to be ready to do it.

‘It was not going to be hard for BEIS when I was there but there was a bit of whingeing from life’s eternal hand-wringers.’

An ongoing Government audit of retained EU law has so far found more than 2,400 pieces of legislation. 

It was recently claimed the discovery of vast swathes of additional pieces of legislation – pushing the total to nearly 4,000 – would delay the process and prompted concerns about the workload for Whitehall officials. 

Mr Sunak told the House of Commons’ Liaison Committee last month that it was ‘right that we look at the stock of retained EU law’ and decide ‘what we want to keep and what we want to flex and change’.

The PM insisted he wanted to move ‘as quickly as possible’ with the process, although he noted there was some ‘flexibility’ within the bill on the timeline for completing the review.

Mr Sunak added the Government wanted to complete the task ‘quickly and thoroughly’ and would focus on ‘the practical changes that we are going to make that will make things better in the UK’. 

During the Tory leadership contest this summer, Mr Sunak promised to deliver a first set of recommendations as to whether each retained EU law should be scrapped or reformed within his first 100 days as PM.

A BEIS spokesman said: ‘The programme to review, revoke and reform retained EU law is under way and there are no plans to change the sunset deadline for any Government departments.’

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