The UK government’s post-Brexit plan to ditch all EU laws by the end of next year have fallen further into jeopardy, after civil servants discovered 1,400 more pieces of retained legislation.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is reviewing his pledge to review or replace all 2,400 pieces of retained EU legislation by the end of 2023 and his ditched his plans for a new civil service unit dedicated to reviewing Brussels’ laws.
The Financial Times today reports that civil servants now believe there are in fact 3,900 pieces of legislation on the UK statute books.
The forgotten 1,400 pieces of legislation were found in the National Archives by Whitehall civil servants, but have not yet been verified by the government.
Ex-business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg was told that his department would have needed 400 civil servants to review or repeal just 300 pieces of retained legislation.
New business secretary Grant Shapps reportedly wants to take a slower pace in reviewing the laws.
Sunak promised to review and replace all EU legislation by the end of 2023 during his Tory leadership campaign.
He also promised the now canned Brexit delivery unit in a leadership video, which saw a faceless man putting EU laws in a paper shredder to the tune of Ode to Joy – the EU’s official anthem.
MPs began debating the Retained EU Law Bill last month, which was championed by Rees-Mogg.
The bill proposes that any piece of EU legislation that has not been reviewed and either replaced or kept by the end of 2023 will be automatically scrapped.
However, there is a clause in the bill which can extend this deadline until 2026.
European Comission Vice President Maros Sefcovic, who leads on Brexit for Brussels, yesterday warned the UK against a quick bonfire of EU laws.
He said it would pile “even more cost” on UK businesses during a period of “severe economic strains”.
“More divergence will carry even more cost and will further deepen the barriers to trade between the EU and the UK,” he said in a speech in London,” he said.