Jacob Rees-Mogg today continued his attack on the Government for scaling back plans to scrap thousands of EU laws as heaped blame on ‘idle’ civil servants.
Mr Rees-Mogg, a former Cabinet minister, insisted backbench anger at the watering down of the Retained EU Law Bill was not due to ‘whimsical euroscepticism’.
He instead stressed that scrubbing leftover EU laws from the UK’s statute book could help ease the cost-of-living crisis.
But Energy Secretary Grant Shapps and a trio of other senior Brexiteers defended the Government’s decision to slow down the removal of retained EU legislation.
They warned of ‘unintended consequences’ from moving too quickly that could ‘damage UK interests’.
Jacob Rees-Mogg continued his attack on the Government for scaling back plans to scrap thousands of EU laws as heaped blame on ‘idle’ civil servants
The senior Tory Brexiteer hit out Whitehall officials as well as Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak over the U-turn on Brussels rules
Energy Secretary Grant Shapps and a trio of other senior Brexiteers defended the Government’s decision to slow down the removal of retained EU legislation
It was recently announced that rather than getting rid of around 4,000 retained EU laws by the end of this year, as originally planned, the Government will only revoke 600 pieces of legislation by the end of December.
Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday show, Mr Rees-Mogg highlighted how Mr Sunak had made a specific pledge in his Tory leadership campaign last summer to repeal retained EU laws in his first 100 days as PM.
‘Promises that are given by politicians ought to be stuck to, particularly when they’re that clear and specific,’ the former business secretary said.
Mr Rees-Mogg also hit back at claims by the Institute for Government think tank that he had left a ‘poisoned brief’ in the form of the Retained EU Law Bill – which he introduced to the House of Commons – for his successors.
‘The Institute for Government is effectively the Junior Ganymede equivalent for civil servants,’ he said, in reference to the fictional club created by writer P. G. Wodehouse.
‘So I would only expect them to come out and give the line of the civil service, who have been very idle about this and need to have worked harder.’
Mr Rees-Mogg also insisted the scrapping of Brussels regulations could boost the UK economy and help combat the current inflation crisis.
‘We need to understand is the point of getting rid of retained EU law – it’s not about whimsical euroscepticism, it’s about making the economy better while we’re in an inflationary period,’ he added.
‘One of the ways to bring down prices is by tackling monetary policy. The Bank of England is doing that and that’s difficult for people.
‘The other thing you can do that brings prices down is free up the economy from over-regulation.
‘This is making it easier for people to trade and do business and that’s such a missed opportunity, particularly in an inflationary environment.
‘It’s the so-called supply side reforms that we have long needed.’
Pressed on whether he thought Ms Badenoch and Mr Sunak had bowed to civil service pressure to slow down the scrapping of retained EU laws, Mr Rees-Mogg suggested the PM’s shake-up of Whitehall departments could also be to blame.
‘Grant Shapps was confident while he was business secretary it could be done, I was confident it could be done and it seems to me there has been a considerable loss of impetus in the last three months – partly, possibly, because of the reorganisation of the department,’ he said.
Mr Shapps, appearing on the same programme, defended the Government’s U-turn on the Retained EU Law Bill.
‘Those laws are being scrapped. Over 2,000 of which will be gone by the end of this year,’ he said.
‘The reality is, as the libraries look for more of these laws that were sort of almost leftover pieces of law, more are being discovered in the archives, as it were, and so there’s a practicality for simply getting those through.
‘We’re now several months on from when I was business secretary and looking after this process. So more of the laws will have been uncovered because that was the work that was going on.
‘I have every confidence the current business secretary is looking at the plethora of these laws that are left, she’s going to have more than 2,000 scrapped by the end of the year. She just announced another 600, I think she’s doing this the right way.’
The Government also received the backing of three senior Tory Brexiteers and former Cabinet ministers for slowing down the process of removing retained EU legislation from the UK’s statute book.
In a joint article for the Sunday Express, Liam Fox, David Davis and Andrea Leadsom wrote: ‘A programme to remove retained EU law too quickly risks unintended consequences that could damage UK interests, so we will continue to review all of our legislation to remove unnecessary burdens to the UK economy as part of a truly conservative vision of a post-Brexit Britain.’
‘We need to get this right, and the clarity provided by the schedule will help,’ they added.