Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested Brexit benefits are at risk after reports of Civil Service warnings over the challenge of ditching thousands of EU laws. The bloc’s laws were copied into domestic law when Britain left the European Union on January 31, 2020. They were kept during a transition period which ended in January 2021.
The former Business Secretary describes the UK saving £191billion by not having to contribute to a European Union stimulus package as just one “major Brexit success”.
There have been warnings that scrapping the thousands of retained EU laws will overwhelm governments across the UK.
But in an opinion piece published in the Telegraph, Mr Rees-Mogg takes aim at some 4,000 retained EU laws which “lie mouldering” on the UK’s statute book.
Mr Rees-Mogg was involved in preparing the Government’s Retained EU Law Bill (REUL) which would see those laws either repealed or turned into UK legislation.
He adds: “And since we must lift the burdens of excessive regulation and unleash the competition on which innovation and wealth depend, protected industries that charge consumers high prices are bound to be displeased by these changes and can be expected to lobby furiously against them.
“Yet policies that are pro-consumer and reduce prices ought to be welcomed in an era in which the spectre of inflation has returned.”
He adds that nobody is discussing “a Wild West without consumer and health protections”, which the UK was a pioneer of long before the EU.
Mr Rees-Mogg argues that reducing inherited EU red tape across Britain’s economy is fundamental to the country’s future prosperity, identifying the bloc’s regulatory system as an urgent problem for the UK economy.
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He goes on to claim that the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is crippling British steel firms. He says the Government is putting the steel industry at risk and urges either ditching ETS or reforming it.
The MP writes that it is no surprise Remainers who still resent the referendum result do not want the “burdens of over-regulation” lifted.
He describes the REUL Bill as the greatest possible impetus to complete the task of taking back Britain’s money, laws and borders.
In addition to his views about the REUL Bill, Mr Rees-Mogg hails the UK’s Covid vaccine roll-out and pursuit of gene-editing technology as Brexit success stories. He writes that the UK’s exit from the EU has also achieved the “primary goal” of restoring democratic control.
But the MP for North East Somerset asks whether Government and Parliament will take the risks required for growth or “bask in the comfort of the waning sun that once shone so brightly over Europe”?
Mr Rees-Mogg’s comments come in a week when Number 10 was forced to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to removing retained EU law by the end of this year.
It follows reports ministers were planning to push back the deadline for the removal of about 4,000 pieces of EU-derived laws by December.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “There are no plans to change the 2023 sunset deadline in the Retained EU Law Bill.
“There are no plans to change it from 2023, which is written into the legislation.”
Asked whether Whitehall departments had been told to continue working on repealing all EU legislation over the next 12 months, the spokesman replied: “Yes.”
He added: “The Prime Minster spoke about this, I think, at the liaison committee last month, that he wants to do it as quickly as possible so that our own rules determine how we live and govern our lives in Britain, rather than EU laws passed some time ago.
“It is important to emphasise that there is no intention to abandon our strong protections on things like workers’ rights or environmental standards – it is a way of looking at what still works in the best interest of the UK.”