Boris Johnson appears to have scrapped Lord Frost’s plan to free the UK from EU red tape in favour of net zero regulations, The Telegraph can disclose.
The Government watered down plans for a post-Brexit bonfire of Brussels regulations, often cited as a major benefit of leaving the EU, and opened fresh divides between the embattled Prime Minister and his backbenchers.
A plan devised by Lord Frost, the UK’s former Brexit negotiator, to cut two retained EU regulations for every one written was dropped.
It was said not to fit in with Mr Johnson’s ambitions to cut Britain’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, which some backbenchers claim will stifle innovation and increase the cost of living.
However, critics claimed that the decision shows a lack of confidence in using the freedoms secured after Brexit and is a victory for the civil service “blob” said to be in control of Downing Street.
PM under fire over net zero
Mr Johnson came under sustained attack over net zero at a meeting of Conservative MPs on Monday night, held after his latest “partygate” apology.
The news that the Prime Minister had spared EU rules from the chop in favour of his green agenda emerged just a day after he promised to cut a billion pounds’ worth of regulation carried over into UK law and published a document called The Benefits of Brexit: How the UK is taking advantage of leaving the EU.
In the paper, the Government argued that the “one-in-two-out rule” was not “consistent with delivering world-class regulation to support the economy in adapting to a new wave of technological revolution or to achieving net zero”.
The rule would have accelerated the removal of EU-era rules from the UK statute book and was praised as an “internationally successful” reform by Lord Frost, who was in charge of Brexit opportunities.
The Telegraph understands it remained on the table until Lord Frost’s departure from the Cabinet late last year.
The former Brexit minister resigned over the Government’s policy to raise taxes and Covid restrictions and has since called for a clearout of “the neo-socialists, green fanatics and pro-woke crowd” working in Downing Street.
Mr Johnson has insisted he is preparing to “make changes” to Downing Street and the Cabinet Office, raising the prospect of a return for Lord Frost.
Donald Trump, the former US president, used a “two-for-one” strategy to roll back the frontiers of the federal regulations while in office.
Upon signing an executive order to strip back regulations in January 2017, he branded the move a “big one” for making “life easier for small businesses”.
Lord Frost’s defeat in the push for a “lightly regulated” economy is likely to be seized on by Tory MPs concerned with Mr Johnson’s net zero drive.
David Jones, a former Brexit minister, said moving away from deregulation was “deeply unconservative”.
“There was quite a lot of concern hurled at the Prime Minister over the push to net zero and the impact that these green policies are having upon standards of living,” he added.
“The impression I get is that there’s going to be a very significant amount of churn in the establishment at Number 10 very, very shortly. I think there’s going to be a lot of bloodletting and I very much hope that we’ll see less of this stuff.
“But I think that that is worrying. We do want to deregulate, we are a deregulatory party, and we should always be that.”