Jacob Rees-Mogg, Liz Truss and current PM Rishi Sunak have expressed their commitment to scrap all EU laws. The Government is committed to implementing this policy by pushing the Retained EU Law Bill through Parliament. It is reasonable to challenge the Government about the effects of this policy and to ask what would happen if all EU laws disappeared from the British statute book. I asked the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) this question but they could not answer my question.
During the Conservative leadership contest last year, Liz Truss said “As Prime Minister, I will unleash the full potential of Britain post-Brexit, and accelerate plans to get EU law off our statute books so we can boost growth and make the most of our new-found freedoms outside of the EU.
I have proved as trade secretary and in the Foreign Office that I am the candidate who can be trusted to deliver on the promise of Brexit and make Britain a higher-growth powerhouse.
EU regulations hinder our businesses and this has to change. In Downing Street, I will seize the chance to diverge from outdated EU law and frameworks and capitalise on the opportunities we have ahead of us.” 1
Her rival in the leadership contest, who is now the current PM, Rishi Runak promised to review or scrap all EU laws within 100 days of taking office. He said that scrapping thousands of EU laws will help to boost economic growth. 2 3 Here is one of his quotes:
“We need to capitalise on these opportunities by ditching the mass of unnecessary regulations and low-growth mentality we’ve inherited from the EU.
I have a plan, if elected prime minister, to have scrapped or reformed, by the time of the next election, all the EU law, red tape, and bureaucracy still on our statute book that is holding back our economy.
As prime minister, I would go further and faster in using the freedoms Brexit has given us to cut the mass of EU regulations and bureaucracy holding back our growth.
If we do this, we can get our economy growing quickly again and become the most prosperous country in Europe.” 4
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former Business Secretary, said “Now that the UK has regained its independence, we have a fantastic opportunity to do away with outdated and burdensome EU laws, and to bring forward our own regulations that are tailor-made to our country’s needs. The Brexit Freedoms Bill (also known as the Retained EU Law Bill) will remove needless bureaucracy that prevents businesses from investing and innovating in the UK, cementing our position as a world class place to start and grow a business.” 5
The Government claims that scrapping EU laws will boost economic growth and improve the British economy. When BEIS produced its Impact Assessment, I expected BEIS to do a cost-benefit analysis of scrapping all EU laws but it didn’t even try and provided no financial figures for scrapping any of these laws. BEIS produced no basis for ministerial claims. So it is not surprising that the Regulatory Policy Committee rated the BEIS Impact Assessment “not fit for purpose”. 6 7
I wanted to know the basis for ministerial claims so I put in a FOI request for information to BEIS to ask about the effects of scrapping all EU laws. I recently received the following reply from BEIS dated 2 February 2023:
BEIS told me “Following a search of our electronic and paper records, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has deemed that it does partially hold information in scope of this request. However, as the programme of assessing how departments will deal with their Retained EU Law is still ongoing, disclosure of this information could interfere with the formulation and development of government policy and therefore the exemption in section 35 of the Freedom of Information Act applies to this request.”
So BEIS holds only partial information about scrapping all EU laws. I wanted BEIS to tell me the basis for Government claims that these laws are burdensome and are holding back the UK and that scrapping them will boost economic growth and prosperity. What evidence does the Government have to support these claims and why can’t they tell us?
UKMA has been active in opposing the REUL Bill because of the threat that it poses to consumer protection and price transparency. It threatens to revoke some weights and measures legislation and roll back several decades of progress on metrication. 8
- https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/1644639/eu-laws-brexit-news-liz-truss-tory-leadership-race (Daily Express, “I’ll work fast to ditch ALL EU laws, says Liz Truss”, 22 July 2022)
- https://www.kentonline.co.uk/news/national/plans-to-scrap-thousands-of-eu-laws-set-to-boost-uk-growth-says-sunak-78562/ (Kent Online, “Plans to scrap thousands of EU laws set to boost UK growth, says Sunak”, 17 January 2023)
- https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11649731/amp/Rishi-Sunak-pushes-ahead-bid-scrap-EU-laws-end-year.html (Daily Mail, “Rishi Sunak pushes ahead with bid to scrap EU laws by the end of this year but faces rebellion from senior Tories who want to give Commons greater oversight over junking Brussels legislation”, 18 January 2023)
- https://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/20285221.rishi-sunaks-commitment-scrap-retained-eu-law-questioned/ (Herald Scotland, “Rishi Sunak’s commitment to scrap retained EU law questioned”, 17 July 2022)
- https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/1673148/brexit-news-eu-rules-update-liz-truss-jacob-rees-mogg-boris-johnson/amp (Daily Express, “Bonfire of regulations: UK poised to scrap ‘outdated EU laws’ and slash £1bn red tape”, 23 September 2022)
6 thoughts on “BEIS cannot tell us effects of scrapping all EU laws”
BEIS is no more.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) was dissolved yesterday (7 February 2023). Its functions were split into three new departments: the Department for Business and Trade, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, and the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.
The Department for International Trade was also dissolved yesterday.
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I think this whole issue is is descending into a farce in real time. I cannot in any way see international trading laws as being ‘red tape’.
As one of the older generation I can see where these dinosaurs are coming from with all this (I think!). In the so called great days of the empire we, the UK did have great sway over most of the world. The manufacturing and trading standards we set were indeed world standards. Most of the world used either UK standards or US standards and that was pretty much it. Fortunately (in most cases) the world has moved on.
We want to turn the clock back to those glory days. Why that includes a fixation on a Roman measuring system is the bit that always puzzles me. We can make what we like, metric, imperial or cubits is our affair, but do not expect others to buy from us.
Our own food standards (or lack of) work when we import, but fail totally when we try to export.
The more we deviate from EU standards and rules (which we in no small measure helped create) the more difficult it will be to export anywhere inside or outside the EU. The more we deviate the more difficult it will be to prove our way is just as good as EU, and the more difficult to go back.
Education in world standards will be a whole different issue for UK to overcome.
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The thing is, is that good or bad news?
Will one department talk to the other, or do we have even more mixed muddles of divergent brain storms?
Brian said: “Most of the world used either UK standards or US standards and that was pretty much it.”
Not true. I think more countries actually used DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung) standards and these with a few exceptions became ISO. British standards were forced on the colonies but most switched to DIN/ISO standards post independence.
The rest of what you said is what I’ve been saying for years. It’s all about the glory days of the empire. How much people forget or never knew, but only the minority elite prospered, the rest of the population lived in poverty. There really was no middle class as there is today. Workhouses and prisons for the poor were quite commonplace, a form of legal slavery and indentured servitude. Modern day elites would love to go back to this debase way of life. They would prosper while the rest suffer. Unfortunately the Luddites have blinded themselves to this reality. They must think they will be exempt from the negative effects of the past.
Returning to imperial will guarantee an isolated existence filled with poverty and want ruled by an elite wealthy ruling class. You can see now how England is drifting towards this.
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Even though the BEIS is no more a single entity, it will continue to exist in parts. Maybe one of the offshoots or all three together may continue to support the REUL Bill or even without support, the Parliament may make it law.
With the breakup of the BEIS there is however a greater opportunity to work with industry and business, especially those that would be highly negatively affected by a forced return to imperial, to push for the REUL Bill to be scrapped. I hope the UKMA can be an active voice in having this bill thrown out.
Now that the UKL has left the EU (something that I regret). it is absolutely necessary to have a process in place to modify and/or remove individual EU directives and regulations from the UK’s legal system. The problem with the REUR Bill is that Rees-Mogg et al were just too hasty in trying to get it done at once rather than allowing it to happen naturally. The EU itself has a rolling program whereby it reviews all directives once every ten years. When the EU modifies one of its directives, how does this effect the UK, even if the directive was one that the UK was keeping place? Should this be done via a statutory instrument (SI) or by an Act of Parliament? In terms of legislative effort, SIs are fairly cheap compared to Acts of Parliament to implement, but they often fail the Parliamentary scrutiny test
My reading of the BBC’s reports on the progress of the REUR Bill through the House of Lords suggests that during the committee stage, the bill will be pulled to pieces by lawyers and judges (who are not constrained by whips) and hopefully they will put something sensible in place. If the Government don’t like what is put in place, they will bounce it back to the Lords. If the bill has not been agreed by the ned of April, then, if the opening of the new Parliament take s place in May (as is expected), then the bill will fail and it will have to start again. This time Rees-Mogg will be back-bencher rather than a government minister.