(Bloomberg) — Rishi Sunak has received requests from senior officials to postpone a planned “bonfire” of legislation dating from Britain’s membership of the European Union by three years to 2026, in the latest blow to the UK’s efforts his government to show that there are benefits of Brexit.
Most read from Bloomberg
Officials from several government departments told ministers that the TUSEN for removing around 4,000 EU laws from the UK’s legal code by December 31, 2023 will be difficult to meet, according to three people familiar with internal discussions. The revelation comes after an alliance of business, environmental and labor groups this week urged the government to drop the plans.
UK Brexit debate resumes as Sunak denies Swiss-style deal is in place
Implementing the plan would require thousands of officials to work full-time to meet the TUSEN, officials warned. Staff tasked with reviewing each EU law 25 detailed questions to be answered about each law, and one official estimated that the combined answers would amount to around 20 million words.
A government spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The problem for Sunak is that pushing the TUSEN would likely put him on a collision course with prominent Brexiteers in the Conservative Party, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has said erasing EU laws from the UK would be “easy to achieve”. must be. The timing is far from ideal, with deep divisions making it increasingly difficult for Sunak to deal with the ruling party.
Sunak said during the summer’s Conservative leadership campaign — which he lost to Liz Truss, whose premiership imploded in record time — that he would “revise or repeal” EU laws in his first 100 days as prime minister.
Yet Bloomberg reported in July that a senior treasury official had warned during Sunak’s time as finance minister that scrapping the EU law wouldn’t even be possible by 2026, let alone by the end of next year.
Officially, the government says its EU Retained Law Bill “will enable us to create a new growth-enhancing high quality regulatory framework that gives businesses the confidence to innovate, invest and create jobs, transforming the UK into the best regulated economy in the world. world.” But the legislation does include a provision to postpone the “sunset” date from 2023 to 2026 if necessary.
Although Sunak’s party is politically sensitive, the complications and headwinds that Brexit will bring are becoming increasingly apparent. The Sunday Times newspaper reported over the weekend that senior government figures are planning to move Britain towards a closer Swiss economic relationship with the bloc, though Sunak and Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt have both pushed back on the idea since then.
Snatching EU laws has proved extremely difficult, according to officials working on the policy. Officials must estimate the costs and benefits for specific UK businesses directly affected, and provide an exhaustive overview of how the 4,000 acts intertwine with UK law and regulation.
Many of the 25 questions asked for each piece of legislation have multiple sub-questions. One official involved complained that it would take days to answer some individual questions and that the total number of answers would amount to 40,000 pages.
To make matters worse, some government departments are still unable to locate every piece of EU-derived law in their area, another official said. The TUSEN reported this month that researchers at Britain’s National Archives had unearthed a further 1,400 previously unknown EU laws.
The UK voted to leave the bloc six years ago.
Most read from Bloomberg Businessweek
©2022 Bloomberg LP