The Government is planning to bring forward a “Brexit Freedoms” Bill to make it easier to amend outdated EU law, as part of a drive which it claims will “cut £1 billion of red tape” for UK businesses.
The Bill will affect the handling of retained EU law – Brussels-made regulations which were preserved in the UK statute book for legal continuity after the Brexit transition period ended in 2020.
The Government has previously made clear that it intends to eventually amend, replace or repeal all of the retained law that it deems “not right for the UK”.
But Downing Street said that, under current rules, changing or scrapping regulations in the pipeline of outdated legislation would take “several years” because of a long-winded alteration process.
It said primary legislation is needed for many changes, even if “minor and technical”.
Boris Johnson said that, while the UK will not diverge from the EU rulebook “for the sake of it”, the legislation will help secure investment in cutting-edge technologies.
“There are things we can do differently and we think in a way that will encourage business to invest even more,” the Prime Minister told broadcasters during a visit to Tilbury Docks.
“In all the areas where the UK is strong – cyber, artificial intelligence, all the cutting-edge technologies of the future – we are going to make sure we do things differently and better, where appropriate.
“We won’t diverge for the sake of it but we are going to make sure this the number one place to do business and invest because of the freedoms that we have.”
Attorney General Suella Braverman said the new Bill means the UK can move away from outdated laws that are the result of “unsatisfactory compromises within the EU”.
“These rules often had limited meaningful parliamentary scrutiny, and no democratic legitimacy in the UK at all,” she said.
“It is vital that we take the steps necessary, in this Parliament, to remove unnecessary rules altogether, and, where regulation is needed, ensure that it meets the UK’s objectives.”
The Bill is also expected to end the special status that EU law holds in the UK’s legal framework.
“Despite our exit from the bloc, EU laws made before January 1 2020 continue to have precedence in our domestic framework,” Downing Street said.
“This is simply not compatible with our status as a sovereign, independent country and the Government will bring it to an end as quickly as possible.”
Shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry said: “For all this talk from the Government about the potential legislative freedom we have outside the EU, they still refuse to make a concrete change the Labour Party has been demanding in this area for months, which is the removal of VAT on people’s energy bills.
“The British public overwhelmingly support Labour’s proposed change, and it is time the Government started listening.”