UK Business Secretary Criticized for U-Turn on EU Laws Retention

    UK Business Secretary Criticized for U-Turn on EU Laws Retention
    Last updated May 12, 2023
    Image credit: POLITICO


    • British Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle scolded Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch before the Commons on Thursday for announcing the government’s decision to scale back its plan to revoke EU laws from the books via a Daily Telegraph article, rather than revealing the plans directly to MPs.[1]
    • In her opening statement to the chamber, Badenoch said she was "very sorry that the sequencing that we chose was not to your [Hoyle's] satisfaction." Addressing Badenoch's words, Hoyle asked: “Who do you think you are speaking to?” The business secretary subsequently apologized to the Speaker.[2]
    • The Tory government had promised to remove or replace over 4K EU laws — incorporated into UK legislation following Brexit to smooth the transition — by the end of 2020. However, Badenoch has now announced that only 600 such laws will be removed in a change to the Retained EU Law Bill.[3]
    • The bill, introduced by former Business secretary and staunch Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, had a “sunset clause” which would automatically remove every EU law that hadn’t been specifically reviewed by the UK government. However, some businesses criticized the plan, saying it could cause great uncertainty.[4]
    • Badenoch drew criticism from all sides of the commons, as shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds railed against “the utter chaos of the Conservatives” while conservative Rees-Mogg accused PM Rishi Sunak of breaking his campaign promises.[5]
    • In addition, the Chair of the Brexit-supporting European Research Group (ERG) questioned the “massive climbdown." However, some Conservative MPs backed the “sensible and pragmatic” changes, stating they were “very conservative and pro-business.”[6]


    Conservative narrative

    Kemi Badenoch and the Tories are taking a pragmatic approach, as the UK looks to establish its post-Brexit laws while resisting racing against an arbitrary deadline to the detriment of economic growth. Changes to the Retained EU Law Bill do not reflect an endorsement of old EU laws, but rather are designed to provide the government with time to decide how legislation will be managed without the risk of swathes of legislation disappearing in the meantime.

    Left narrative

    The Tories are tearing each other apart as Brexit hardliners challenge the intention of PM Sunak and Kemi Badenoch to scale down the planned mass scrapping of EU laws. Brexiteers are criticizing their own party’s lack of urgency and its leadership's ties to the establishment, while Labour leaders rightly point out how badly the Tories have botched their own plans and weakened Britain by putting internal party divisions above the interests of the country.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 50% chance that the UK will apply to rejoin the EU in 2049, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Political split



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