Sunak accused of ‘showing true colours’ and ‘reversing Brexit’ with EU law bonfire delay

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Rishi Sunak has been accused of attempting to “reverse Brexit” after it was claimed that the Prime Minister will be forced by the House of Lords to abandon plans for a bonfire of EU laws. Brexiteer Lord Cruddas, a Conservative peer, claimed the Prime Minister is “showing his true colours”. The Government has pledged to remove as many as 4,000 pieces of EU-derived legislation from the British statute book by the end of 2023.

The deadline has been dismissed as unrealistic, with estimates suggesting that thousands of officials will be required to work on reviewing the legislation full-time.

A senior Government source said it was “inevitable” that Mr Sunak’s Government would be forced to abandon the plans when the legislation reaches the Lords, as peers have raised significant concerns already.

This is expected to occur next month.

Speaking to the Times, the source said: “I can’t see it [the deadline] surviving.

“We’ll have to compromise when it gets to the Lords.

“If the object is to review all these regulations properly rather than just cut and paste them into UK law then we’ll need more time.

“It’s an entirely arbitrary deadline. We’re going to have to make a concession to get it through.”

Writing on Twitter in response to the claims about the House of Lords blocking the Brexit bonfire, Lord Cruddas said Mr Sunak is “showing his true colours – back under EU control, democracy be damned!”

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“Huge swathes of this country voted for this Government because it believed in Brexit and we haven’t delivered on the benefits of Brexit.

“So whether it be making a bonfire of EU laws, whether it be NI, whether it be trade barriers or controlling our borders, this is what the people of this country will judge us by.

“Fiscal policy will come and go, the number of people paying tax can change year to year, but what cannot change is our promise to the people of this country under Brexit. The clock is ticking.”

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill paves the way for Brussels legislation still on the UK statute book to be repealed by the end of 2023.

But there have been question marks over whether the mammoth bureaucratic task would be completed on time.

And fresh doubts were raised in November after reports that ministers working with the National Archives found an additional 1,400 EU laws, which takes the total to 3,800.

But at the time, Downing Street confirmed the plans are set to go ahead by the 2023 deadline.

Grant Shapps, who took over from Jacob Rees-Mogg as Business Secretary after Rishi Sunak became PM, is said to be keen to slow down the review due to the feasibility of sifting through the legislation in just over a year.

An ally told the Financial Times in November: “We will slow things down to a sane pace.”

The Bill is in its Committee Stage in the Commons and could be amended to as late as 2026.