Brexit bonfire of EU laws set to go ahead as PM confirms date

Jacob Rees-Mogg clashes with Richard Graham over Brexit

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A bonfire of EU law retained after Brexit is still set to go ahead by the 2023 deadline, Downing Street has said. It comes after fears the date could be pushed back following the discovery of 1,400 extra pieces of legislation on top of the 2,400 already known about.

On whether it is still the intention to press on with the 2023 sunset clause, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said today: “We are legislating for this currently, the Bill is progressing through parliament, there are no changes.”

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Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill paves the way for Brussels legislation still on the UK statute book to be repealed by the end of next year.

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

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

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 combing through the legislation in just over a year.

An ally told the Financial Times: “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.

But Conservative Brexiteers have urged the Government to press on with the timetable.

Tory MP Marcus Fysh told Express.co.uk: “A deadline is important to add urgency to the task of increasing competitiveness.”

And former Brexit minister David Jones said he “absolutely” believed the bonfire of EU red tape could be wrapped up by the end of next year, adding that he would be “very unhappy” if there was a delay.

Rishi Sunak had already ditched his pledge during the summer Tory leadership race to complete the exercise within 100 days.

Speaking in the Commons last month, Mr Rees-Mogg, who spearheaded the Bill during his time in Government, hailed it as “removing the supremacy of EU law”.

And he accused those opposed to a bonfire of retained EU laws of “fighting the Brexit battle over again”.

Mr Rees-Mogg said: “The issue of supremacy is of constitutional importance and I’d say anybody who opposes the removal of the supremacy of EU law is fighting the Brexit battle over again.

“It’s about saying ‘we didn’t really leave after all, we’d like to pretend we’re still there and isn’t it nice to allow this alien law to continue to tell us what we ought to do’.”

On talks with the EU on the Northern Ireland Protocol, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The Foreign Secretary and Maros Sefcovic are speaking regularly. Officials are having ongoing technical talks with the EU.”

Downing Street added that removing the European Court of Justice from its oversight role remains a priority.

The PM’s official spokesman said: “You will know the position remains as set out before that having the ECJ as a final arbiter on this is not acceptable.”

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