How are business groups reacting to the Great Repeal Bill?

Mark Sands
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The UK voted to leave the European Union on 23 June (Source: Getty)

Business groups have given Prime Minister Theresa May's plans for a Great Repeal Bill a cautious welcome after they were unveiled by Brexit secretary David Davis earlier today.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Davis told MPs that the plans would provide certainty for businesses in the aftermath of Brexit with continuity of regulation and laws a central focus.

Rival politicians have accused the government of using the Bill to formalise a power grab, temporarily allowing the government to tweak EU laws without parliamentary scrutiny, but the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Institute of Directors (IoD) have all given the plans a cautious thumbs up.

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CBI deputy director-general Josh Hardie welcomed the clarity and continuity of the plans, but warned the transposition itself will be a complex process.

And Hardie called for the UK to offer to align future regulation with the EU in order to secure continued access to European markets.

“Having a different set of rules with our biggest trading partner could add significant complexity and costs, which would be most keenly felt by smaller firms," Hardie said.

“Once the UK has left the EU, the government should explore targeted opportunities for regulatory flexibility in consultation with business, but not at the expense of access to international markets."

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Similarly, BCC director general Adam Marshall backed the idea of business groups being granted "day-one" certainty.

However, Marshall also noted that the government's time-limited powers to amend laws as they are transposed could raise concerns.

"As we have seen in the past, it takes only takes one poorly drafted regulation to spark expensive court cases with wide-reaching consequences – and we are talking here about re-drafting thousands of pieces of the rule-book," he said.

And IoD head of EU and trade policy Allie Renison agreed: "This really is a question of slow and steady wins the race – transfer the law first, then work out which bits we want to keep."

However, she added: “The Great Repeal Bill is a good platform to build on, and shows the government is asking the right questions about the fiddly process of making Brexit happen."

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