UK to Launch Brexit Freedoms Bill to Speed Removal of EU Law

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
January 31, 2022Updated: January 31, 2022

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out plans for a “Brexit freedoms” bill to end the special status of EU law and enable the government to amend or remove outdated EU law more easily.

On the two-year anniversary of the UK’s departure from the European Union, Downing Street unveiled plans it says will ease regulatory burdens and cut £1 billion ($1.3 billion) of red tape for UK businesses, though it did not specify how the figure was calculated.

Despite Brexit, many EU laws and regulations have been preserved in the UK statute book for legal continuity.

Boris Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, in London, on Jan. 26, 2022. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

The UK government has previously made clear that it intends to eventually amend, replace, or repeal all of the retained EU law that it deems “not right for the UK.”

But Downing Street said that, under current rules, changing or scrapping these laws would take “several years” because of a long-winded alteration process.

It said that government officials are sifting through all of the retained laws “to determine if they are beneficial to the UK.”

The bill is also expected to end the special status that EU law still holds in the UK’s legal framework.

“Despite our exit from the bloc, EU laws made before Jan. 1, 2020, continue to have precedence in our domestic framework,” Downing Street said. “This is simply not compatible with our status as a sovereign, independent country and the government will bring it to an end as quickly as possible.”

Commenting on the planned bill, the prime minister said, “Getting Brexit done two years ago today was a truly historic moment and the start of an exciting new chapter for our country.”

“We have made huge strides since then to capitalise on our newfound freedoms and restore the UK’s status as a sovereign, independent country that can determine its own future,” he said. “The plans we have set out today will further unleash the benefits of Brexit and ensure that businesses can spend more of their money investing, innovating, and creating jobs.”

The plan has been criticised by the devolved administrations of Scotland and Wales.

Angus Robertson, the Scottish government’s culture secretary, said the plan was devised with “little discussion, consultation with, or indeed respect for, the Scottish Parliament and government.”

Mick Antoniw, the Welsh minister for the constitution, said the UK government was driving a “coach and horses through the concept of mutual consent.”

Johnson has been under pressure from some Conservative politicians to move faster to capitalise on the newfound freedoms following Brexit to deregulate the economy.

One of his key allies, David Frost, resigned as Brexit minister on Dec. 18 after expressing his concerns about “the current direction of travel.”

“I hope we will move as fast as possible to where we need to get to: a lightly regulated, low-tax, entrepreneurial economy, at the cutting edge of modern science and economic change,” he said in his resignation letter.

PA Media contributed to this report.