Bill to remove EU laws divides Britain
Marking the two-year anniversary of Brexit, the UK government has announced new legislation to address what politicians see as unnecessary “red tape” that was copied over when Britain departed from the European Union.
The plan, dubbed the ‘Brexit Freedoms Bill’, is designed to allow the UK to “unleash the benefits” of Britain’s exit from the EU, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The newly announced bill will seek to give the government the power to swiftly move away from European legislation in areas like data protection, artificial intelligence, medicine, and the environment.
However, the plan has received backlash from devolved governments in the UK, with both Scottish and Welsh politicians condemning the London government’s efforts to expand its power to further separate Britain from the EU.
If passed, the bill will “undermine devolution,” Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Constitution Angus Robertson warned.
Welsh Minister for the Constitution Mick Antoniw accused the government of seeking to drive a “coach and horses through the concept of mutual consent.”
The bill is intended to build on other changes since Brexit, which have included simplification of alcohol duties, scrapping the EU’s 5% VAT rate on tampons, and creating a UK regime for regulating government support.
All the affected regulations were simply copied over from EU laws as part of efforts to create a smoother Brexit transition period. The government has been reviewing which laws it want to keep, get rid of or amend since September.
The legislation was announced as Johnson faces a political crisis in the UK amid ongoing allegations about the ‘Partygate’ scandal. The findings of a civil service investigation into reports of lockdown-breaching parties at Downing Street and government departments was handed to the prime minister on Monday. It is expected to be publicly released after Johnson has had a chance to read the report.