Senior Tories clash as plans to scrap EU laws clear the Commons

Plans to scrap all remaining EU-made laws in the UK by the end of the year have cleared the Commons amid criticism from a senior Brexiteer that the process is not democratic and “possibly incompetent”.

Conservative former Brexit secretary David Davis hit out at the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill as it passed its final Commons hurdles.

MPs voted 297 to 238, majority 59, to give it a third reading and the Bill will now go to the Lords for further scrutiny.

Business minister Nusrat Ghani described the proposed legislation as “the culmination of government’s work to untangle ourselves from decades of EU membership”.

Prominent eurosceptic MPs seemed to be divided over the government’s plans, though, which could see around 4,000 laws amended, repealed or replaced with little Parliamentary scrutiny over each decision.

Conservative 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”.

Tory MP Sir Bill Cash (Stone) told the Commons “these thousands of laws lack inherent democratic legitimacy and must therefore be removed or replaced from our statute book”.

In stark contrast to his eurosceptic colleagues, leading Leave campaigner Mr Davis described the Bill as “not democratic”, as 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 is also going to be “inefficient and possibly incompetent”, giving the House the example of March, 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 over the scrapping of remaining EU-made laws.

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

It was rejected by 295 to 242, majority 53.

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

Speaking at third reading, shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “We still have not heard a compelling answer as to why the government can’t address the body of EU attained law on a sector by sector basis, putting forward their replacement proposals in the same way we legislate for everything else.

“What this Bill is a charter for is uncertainty, confusion, and the regression of essential British rights and we cannot and we will not stand for that.”


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