Senior Tories clash as plan to scrap 4,000 EU laws clears the Commons

Jacob Rees-Mogg defends Retained EU Law Bill

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Former Brexit Secretary David Davis hit out at the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill as it passed its final Commons hurdles today. MPs have voted 297 to 238 to give it a third reading with the Bill now going to the Lords for further scrutiny.

Business Minister Nusrat Ghani described the proposed legislation as the culmination of the Government’s work to untangle Britain from decades of EU membership.

Prominent eurosceptic MPs appeared to be divided over the plans which could see about 4,000 laws amended, repealed or replaced.

Former cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg said the Bill was a “technical tidying up operation” but of “great constitutional importance”.

He insisted people who oppose it “actually in their hearts are the ones who opposed Brexit all along”.

Mr Rees-Mogg told “It is a technical Bill of great constitutional importance. It removes the supremacy of EU law and puts the common law legal tradition back at the heart of our system. It provides an opportunity for economic growth by removing bad EU regulation. It is a Bill for prosperity and democracy.”

Tory MP Sir Bill Cash told the Commons the thousands of laws lack inherent, democratic legitimacy and must be removed or replaced from the country’s statute book.

A leading Leave campaigner, Mr Davis described the Bill as not democratic.

He argued: “I voted and I campaigned to improve democracy. I wanted to take back control to give it to Westminster, not to Whitehall.”


He stressed the Bill would be inefficient and possibly incompetent.

Mr Rees-Mogg told Mr Davis he did not understand why he found the Bill “so shocking”.

Intervening during Mr Davis’ speech, the MP for North East Somerset asked him: “I too am very much in favour of parliamentary scrutiny and things being done properly, but everything that is being covered by this came in by a secondary measure and therefore it is proportional.

“Primary legislation is not within the scope of this Bill. If anything that came out of Europe came through in primary legislation that will have to go through the floor of this House. So unless my right honourable friend is against secondary legislation altogether, I don’t quite understand why he finds this Bill so shocking.”

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Mr Davis, who served as Brexit Secretary under Theresa May, replied: “But two wrongs don’t make a right. The reason I did not like the European Union was precisely what he’s just described. We had things almost de facto imposed upon us.”

He added: “I said it’s not democratic, but it’s also going to be inefficient and possibly incompetent. And I give the House, as a demonstration of this, what we did on March 23 2020. You may remember that that was the day we gave the Government all sorts of powers on the coronavirus emergency Act.

“And look how many errors were made in governing the country in the next six months until we corrected that.”

Mr Davis, who ultimately voted in support of the Bill at third reading, backed an unsuccessful cross-party amendment which would have given MPs greater oversight of the scrapping of remaining EU-made laws.

The amendment was also supported by three other Conservative MPs: the chairman of the Justice Select Committee Sir Bob Neill; MP for York Outer Julian Sturdy and former minister Dan Poulter.

It was rejected by 295 to 242, a majority of 53.

Amendments suggested by Labour to extend the deadline to 2026 and exempt swathes of environmental and employment legislation were also defeated.

MPs also voted 300 to 239 to reject an amendment tabled by the SNP aimed at safeguarding Scottish-made laws derived from EU legislation from being included within the scope of the Bill.

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