Business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch has infuriated Brexiteer MPs, including the European Research Group (ERG), by telling them that Rishi Sunak’s Brexit bonfire will be much smaller than they had hoped.
The government is abandoning plans to review or scrap over 4,000 pieces of retained EU law by the end of the year, the Financial Times reported. Instead, Badenoch is set to publish just a list of 800 laws that will go – 20% of what was originally proposed.
The move comes after business and trade unions had penned a letter to the government, arguing that the 2023 deadline had created widespread uncertainty and could lead to the loss of key protections. It also comes after several reports that the prime minister was delaying the sunset clause, the date by which the retained EU laws would be automatically revoked. In November, Bloomberg claimed Number 10 was considering pushing this deadline back until 2026.
Unsurprisingly, Badenoch’s decision has ruffled a few Brexiteer feathers. They have accused her of being “unambitious”, and pandering to peers who are seeking to render the bill ineffective. One MP told the Times: “She admitted that it was a concession to the Lords to get the bill through. It went down like a lead balloon.”
Allies of the minister instead insisted she asked ERG members for their input and to cite which ‘bad laws’ needed to be included in the 800.
Stella Creasy, MP for Walthamstow and chair of the Labour Movement for Europe told The New European: “All those wanting to defend parliamentary sovereignty should be wary of the government using the promise not to delete vital rights now as a Trojan horse to get this legislation through parliament and then use the powers in it to destroy legislation later.
“The Retained EU Law bill in its current form still seeks to use Brexit as an excuse for a ministerial power grab which is why we will continue to work with colleagues across the house and campaigners in all quarters to protect the role MPs play in making laws from an overbearing and often unaccountable executive.”
The government’s U-turn arrives the same week that a new era of Conservatism appeared in the form of Jacob Rees-Mogg and David Frost. With a wedge now well and truly placed between the factions of the party, it begs the question: can the Tories survive their own Brexit?