Government drops plans to scrap EU laws automatically at the end of this year
The government has decided it is going to be easier to decide which of Britain’s EU-derived laws to scrap than to select those to retain.
The Retained EU Law (Revocation & Reform) Bill intended to revoke automatically some 4,000 laws that originated from membership of the EU at the end of this year. Some of the laws involve employment protection rights and health & safety regulations.
The Bill was introduced to Parliament in 2022 under the Premiership of Liz Truss. Although its aim was to scrap the EU-derived laws, it allowed for those that would still be needed to be retained.
When Richie Sunak was vying for the job of Prime Minister he said he would scrap the EU laws in the first 100 days of his premiership. He has changed his mind.
When the Bill was introduced by Liz Truss it was described as the culmination of a journey that began with the referendum in June 2016 and marked the two-year anniversary of ‘getting Brexit done’.
Retained EU Law is a category of domestic law created at the end of the transition period of leaving the EU (the end of 2021). It consists of EU-derived legislation that was preserved in the UK domestic legal framework by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.
Successive Conservative administrations have maintained that the retained laws will be dropped, but Kemi Badenoch, who was appointed Secretary of State for the Department for Business & Trade in February this year, said in a written statement on Wednesday 10 May that there were “risks of legal uncertainty” if the majority of EU laws were repealed at the end of this year.
The task of identifying and, where necessary, amending those that were to be retained was unlikely to be completed by the end of this year. The Retained EU Law (Revocation & Reform) Bill has also received a cool reception from the House of Lords.
So instead of automatically scrapping all the laws except those that should be retained, the plan now is to identify about 600 that can be repealed or amended. It remains to be seen which 600 that will be.
Repealing or amending existing legislation can be achieved without the Retained EU Law (Revocation & Reform) Bill becoming law, but the changes would have to be agreed by Parliament.