Leading British business groups and unions have called on Rishi Sunak to delay post-Brexit plans to shred all retained EU laws by 2023.
In a letter signed by more than a dozen institutions – including the Institute of Directors and Trades Union Congress (TUC) – the groups said the plans would “cause significant confusion and disruption” for the private sector.
The government is currently moving the Retained EU Law Bill through parliament, which would force the government to strike all European legislation off the UK statute book by the end of 2023.
The bill dictates that any law that hasn’t been reviewed and either replaced or kept by this time would be automatically removed from the statute book.
Brexiteers have lauded the Retained EU Law Bill, which was championed by ex-business secretary Jacob Rees-mogg, as a crucial break with Brussels.
However, there are complaints that the fast pace of the drive will create uncertainty for businesses and could lead to environmental safeguards and workers’ rights being dumped by accident.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the legislation was “a recipe for chaos” and that it “must be withdrawn before lasting damage is done”.
“This bill has been rushed through with no consultation and no real thought for the impacts on workers, businesses, consumers and the environment,” she said.
Rishi Sunak is mulling over whether to retain the end of 2023 target or to extend it further to give Whitehall mandarins more time to review EU legislation.
Business secretary Grant Shapps reportedly wants to take a slower pace in reviewing the laws, particularly while cabinet ministers are being asked to make spending “efficiencies”.
The UK has around 2,400 confirmed retained EU laws, however it has been alleged that civil servants have found hundreds more in the archives.
It is understood that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) needs around 400 civil servants to review or repeal just 300 pieces of retained legislation.
There is a clause in the Retained EU Law Bill that can be triggered to extend the 2023 sunset clause to 2026.
A government spokesperson said the bill would “allow us to ensure our laws and regulations best fit the needs of the country, including making sure we continue to protect and enhance workers’ rights and support jobs”.