Lords ‘will delay’ Sunak’s plans to scrap 4,000 EU laws by end of 2023

Rishi Sunak can't wait for 2023

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Rishi Sunak will be forced by the House of Lords to halt plans on removing European Union laws by December, according to reports. The Conservative Party had vowed to remove around 4,000 pieces of EU-derived laws following Brexit. Ministers will have to decide which laws they want to retain, which to scrap and which to change. But the Prime Minister may be forced to push back the “impossible deadline” as thousands of officials will be made to review legislation full time.

A senior government source told The Times that it was “inevitable” that the government would have to abandon its plans when the legislation reaches the Lords, which is expected to be next month. Peers have raised significant concerns about them.

“I can’t see it [the deadline] surviving,” the source said. “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.”

Several departments are expected to extend the deadline, including the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for Transport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs until 2026.

There have been claims that Grant Shapps, the business secretary, is sympathetic to a delay.

But the delays could cause backlash for the government who were hoping the legislation would show they were delivering on the benefits of Brexit.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, a former business secretary, 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.”

Sunak initially said he would “review or repeal” EU laws in his first 100 days as Prime Minister.

The task of reviewing 4,000 EU-derived laws could take months as each regulation is subject to 25 detailed questions and multiple sub-questions.

An alliance of more than a dozen organisations, including the Trades Union Congress, the Institute of Directors (IoD) and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said the proposed changes would cause difficulties for several sectors.

In a letter to Shapps the alliance said the plans would create further uncertainty for businesses.

Roger Barker, the director of policy and governance at the IoD, said: “Getting to grips with any resulting regulatory changes will impose a major new burden on business which it could well do without.”

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There have been concerns that the policy could impact workers’ rights and environmental protections, with the letter claiming the proposal would overturn “decades of case law” and make the “intermpretation of the law highly uncertain”.

This could affect holiday pay, safe working hours and laws governing the labelling of meat and eggs.

Ministers are understood to be keen to apply the new clauses to: chemical regulations, which ministers claim impose high compliance costs on small businesses; rules on wine labelling, packaging and bottle sizes, including minimum alcohol requirements; and regulations governing high-powered vacuum cleaners and some planning regulations.

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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