The scale of the UK government's Brexit challenge has been lain bare by new research revealing that more than 50,000 EU laws have been introduced in the UK since 1990 alone.
And figures from Thomson Reuters, released as May triggers Article 50 to begin Brexit, show that ministers face a sizeable task, with a total of 52,741 laws introduced in the UK as a result of EU legislation over the last 27 years.
Critics have questioned whether the plan will hand the government too much power, pointing to the potential for European legislation to be tweaked as part of the process.
And earlier this week, Downing Street vowed that so-called Henry VIII powers to amend European laws as they are converted will be subject to a “sunset clause”, and any significant amendments will require parliament's approval.
It comes as foreign secretary Boris Johnson hinted at government support for pushes to dramatically reduce regulatory burdens on British businesses.
Responding to a question from Tory backbencher Michael Fabricant, Johnson said that Brexit “will be an opportunity to get rid of some of the burdensome regulation that has accreted over the past 44 years, and I applaud the campaign that I know he supports”.
However, legislative expert Daniel Greenberg cautioned: “So-called EU ‘red tape’ has been central to the ‘Brexit’ debate. Judging by the relationship of existing non-EU European countries with the EU, it is, however, unlikely we will be seeing a bonfire of these regulations.
“Switzerland and Norway still have to implement many EU laws, despite not being member states, due to the nature of their trade agreements with the EU.
“The content of the UK’s trade agreements with the EU are similarly likely to be a determining factor on the extent to which the UK continues – or not – to implement EU laws.”