Tory peer fumes over deadline for bonfire of EU laws

Lord Callanan grilled on deadline for scrapping retained EU laws

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An end-of-year deadline for axing thousands of retained EU laws from Britain’s statute book “flies in the face of common sense”, a peer has claimed. Lord Cormack hit out at the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, which passed its final Commons hurdles last week and is expected to run into significant opposition in the Lords.

The Bill paves the way for some 4,000 Brussels-derived laws to be scrapped by December, unless they are specifically kept or replaced.

But Tory peer Lord Cormack insisted the end of 2023 time limit was an “arbitrary date”.

And he suggested the UK had not learned a “lesson” from ongoing tensions over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Lord Cormack told the Lords: “We placed an arbitrary date on Brexit and we got the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“Did we not learn a lesson that to place an arbitrary date and to say that all this must be done by the end of this year is flying in the face of common sense?”

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Lord Callanan, replied: “I’m sure we will have a full debate on the proposed sunset date for regulations but I don’t think the system with the Northern Ireland Protocol is the same as this Bill.”

Lord Cormack made the comments during an oral questions session after Labour peer Lord Balfe asked whether the Government had held discussions with trade unions over the impact of the Bill on workers’ rights.

Lord Callanan said: “We engage with the trade unions regularly and there’s been a number of meetings in recent weeks, particularly about strike action. But the Retained EU Law Bill is not about workers’ rights, it is about retained EU legislation and the consequences that will flow from that.”

It comes after Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg warned Remainer peers against obstructing a bonfire of EU laws.

The former Cabinet minister told Express.co.uk: “As the Bill passed the Commons with a large majority I hope the Lords will recognise its strong democratic mandate.

“Although there are many Peers who have never liked the referendum result they are there to revise technical detail not to obstruct the voters.”

The Bill was given final approval by MPs last Wednesday by 297 to 238, majority 59.

A series of amendments to give MPs greater oversight over the axing of laws, on extending the deadline to 2026, and exempting swathes of environmental and employment legislation were defeated.

But the Bill is expected to face stiff opposition from the Lords.

Taking to Twitter last week, Labour peer Lord Adonis, who is campaigning for the UK to rejoin the EU, said: “The House of Lords now has a vitally important job to do with the EU Retained Law Bill.

“This is the worst poisoned pill of Brexit – a straightforward attempt to burn the house down before the election, hoping that Brexit can’t then be reversed. Utterly vile.”

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