Rishi Sunak vows to ditch EU laws holding Britain back

Rishi Sunak - Charlotte Graham
Rishi Sunak - Charlotte Graham

Rishi Sunak on Saturday brandished his Brexiteer credentials, promising a bonfire of EU laws “getting in the way” of British businesses to trigger “a new Big Bang”.

Writing for The Telegraph, the former chancellor pledged that he will have “scrapped or reformed all of the EU law, red tape and bureaucracy that is still on our statute book and slowing economic growth” by the time of the next election if he succeeds Boris Johnson as prime minister.

Mr Sunak said he would task a Brexit minister and a new Brexit Delivery Department with reviewing all 2,400 EU laws transferred over to the UK statute book after the UK’s exit from the bloc. He would demand the first set of recommendations as to whether each law should be scrapped or reformed “within my first 100 days in the job”.

The announcement is designed to woo pro-Brexit MPs and Tory members as Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, and Kemi Badenoch, the former equalities minister, battle to win crucial votes from Brexiteers ahead of the final ballots of MPs this week.

It is one of five interventions in The Telegraph in which each of the candidates to lead the Conservative Party set out their stalls.

In another article, Mrs Badenoch said she would bring down levels of immigration to reduce pressure on housing and the NHS in a pitch to MPs on the Right of the party.

Meanwhile, Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee, said his “dream” of his children being able to afford their own home was “turning into a nightmare” as he set out proposals on housing and warned: “We simply have to build more homes.”

Ms Truss and Mrs Badenoch have promised to slash red tape in order to boost growth, with the Foreign Secretary warning that “Whitehall orthodoxy” has been holding back major reform. She pledged to overhaul financial rules that tie the hands of insurers, and free up pension funds to be able to invest in high tech start-ups.

Specific pledges by Mr Sunak included overhauling retained EU regulations “to trigger a Big Bang 2.0” for the City, with his team saying he would set a target “to make London once again the world’s leading financial centre by 2027”.

He also said he would replace the EU-derived GDPR data laws with “the most dynamic data protection regime in the world” and cut red tape slowing down clinical trials.

Mr Sunak backed the Leave campaign in 2016 but is claimed to have taken a softer approach to negotiations with the EU than Ms Truss, who supported Remain during the referendum.

Sir Bill Cash, the veteran Brexiteer who has been an MP since 1984, on Saturday backed Ms Truss’s campaign in an article for The Telegraph in which he likened the Foreign Secretary and Suella Braverman, the Attorney General, to Margaret Thatcher.

He urged Brexiteers to unite behind Ms Truss to “save our precious Union and win the next General Election”, adding: “Margaret Thatcher would agree.”

Mr Sunak said: “I strongly believe that I made the right decision in backing the Leave campaign. Because of Brexit, 21st century Britain will be a sovereign, global, free-trading nation with full control over its laws, regulations and international trade policy.

“While we got Brexit done, however, there is so much more to do now to capitalise on the freedoms it gave us and to ditch the mass of thousands of unnecessary EU laws and regulations holding us back.

“Today I make a promise. If I am elected prime minister, by the time of the next general election I will have scrapped or reformed all of the EU law, red tape and bureaucracy that is still on our statute book and slowing economic growth.

“As Prime Minister, I would task a new Brexit Delivery Department with reviewing all of the remaining 2,400 laws on our statute book – with the first set of recommendations as to whether each law should be scrapped or reformed being published within my first 100 days in the job.

“We need to remove power from faceless regulators and give that power to MPs in our Parliament. I would demand results from the Civil Service and Government, with my Brexit Minister producing an annual public report on the progress towards delivering our growth opportunities, and the scrapping or reforming of the other 2,400 EU laws still on our statute book.”

Mr Sunak pledged “radical reform” of the EU’s Solvency II insurance rules to “help investors and insurers put money into assets like infrastructure that stimulate growth and will reap long-term rewards for our country”.

He said the move would trigger a second “Big Bang” – a reference to the sudden deregulation of the City in 1986 – and follow work that he began while chancellor.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Mr Sunak and Mr Johnson were preparing to reform the rules and had been working with regulators to achieve the change.

Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England, has said “the case for reform is clear”, and Ms Truss has hinted at similar reforms as part of her leadership campaign.

Mr Sunak said: “Our success with getting the Covid vaccines approved showed how we can move faster outside the EU, saving millions of lives as a result. We should now replicate that success in other areas with a streamlined, single approval service for UK clinical trials – making it simpler, safer and faster than the system we inherited from the EU.

“Ultimately, the best way to get the cost of living under control is to grow the economy by increasing productivity.”