Critics slam UK bid for post-Brexit bonfire of EU laws

Jan 18, 2023, 10:28 AM | Updated: 10:42 am

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister's...

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister's Questions session in parliament in London, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

LONDON (AP) — First came Brexit. Now comes Britain’s bonfire of European laws.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is pushing ahead with a contentious plan to remove all remaining European Union laws from Britain’s statute book by the end of 2023, despite opponents’ claims that the move is rash and unworkable.

Thousands of pieces of EU law were cut-and-pasted into U.K. legislation when Britain left the bloc in 2020 after decades of membership, to ensure continuity for people and businesses. A bill debated Wednesday in Parliament would automatically remove all of them at the end of the year unless they are explicitly replaced or retained. Financial services rules are exempt from the cull.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of achieving this deadline, the deadline of 2023,” Business Minister Nusrat Ghani told lawmakers in the House of Commons. “Retained EU law was never intended to sit on the statute book indefinitely.”

Opponents argue that reviewing such a huge mass of law is a mammoth undertaking that will suck up the time of civil servants and lead to rules being rewritten without proper parliamentary scrutiny.

Conservative lawmaker David Davis, a firm supporter of Brexit, said Parliament was being asked “to sign a blank check, one might almost say a pig in a poke, because we do not know even how many pieces of legislation are going through on the back of this, let alone what they are.”

“It’s not democratic, but it’s also going to be inefficient and possibly incompetent,” Davis said.

Critics also worry that safeguards for workers’ rights and environmental standards will get eroded in the rush to discard the EU’s way of doing things.

Jo Pike, chief executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said the bill would “wipe away decades of environmental and other protections with potentially far-reaching unintended consequences.”

Former Prime Minister Liz Truss introduced the bill during her ill-fated seven weeks in office last year. Sunak, her successor, decided to keep it despite calls from the opposition – and some within his governing Conservative Party – to scrap the bill or move the end date to 2026.

Some Conservative lawmakers want to amend the bill to give Parliament more explicit say over which laws are thrown out or amended.

Jill Rutter, a senior fellow at the Institute for Government think tank, said Sunak’s government appeared to hope that “this primal scream of legislation will finally flush the missing Brexit dividends out from the cover of bureaucratic inertia” and revive the British economy.

But, Rutter wrote in the Financial Times, it was “more likely to blow up in his government’s face than deliver noticeable benefits.”

The bill is expected to pass its final hurdle Wednesday in the House of Commons, where the Conservatives have a large majority. It will then go to the House of Lords for more scrutiny and likely opposition.


Follow AP’s coverage of Brexit at https://apnews.com/hub/brexit and of British politics at https://apnews.com/hub/british-politics

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

7 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

8 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

10 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

10 days ago

(Pexels photo)...

Associated Press

Baby in Kansas City, Missouri, dies after her mother mistakenly put her in an oven

An infant in Missouri died when her mother mistakenly put her down for a nap in an oven, a prosecutor said Saturday.

11 days ago

Former Arizona Department of Corrections boss Charles Ryan received probation on Feb. 9, 2024. (AP ...

Associated Press

Former Arizona corrections boss sentenced to probation over armed 2022 standoff with police

Former Arizona Corrections Director Charles Ryan was sentenced Friday to probation for his no-contest plea to a disorderly conduct charge stemming from a 2022 armed standoff at his Tempe home.

12 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.



The 2023 Diamondbacks are a good example to count on the underdog

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the World Series as a surprise. That they made the playoffs at all, got past the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card round, swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and won two road games in Philadelphia to close out a full seven-game NLCS went against every expectation. Now, […]

Critics slam UK bid for post-Brexit bonfire of EU laws