Boris Johnson will announce a “Brexit Freedoms Bill” on Monday as he urges Brussels to “abandon the punitive and zero-sum approach” it has taken to frustrate Brexit.
The PM will also pledge to use powers available after the UK’s withdrawal to cut away a billion pounds’ worth of European Union-era “red tape”, though details are yet to be provided.
Mr Johnson vowed to move “ever faster” to unshackle Britain, pledging to scrap thousands of EU laws still in place in the UK. The announcements have been timed to coincide with the second anniversary of Britain’s formal departure from the EU, at 11pm on Jan 31 2020. The drive will be seen as an attempt to refocus minds on one of his main feats as Prime Minister – securing a deal that delivered the UK’s EU exit.
Writing in the Daily Mail, he said: “Our new Brexit Freedoms Bill will make it easier to get rid of retained EU law, the weird system by which EU legislation occupies a semi-sacred place on the UK statute book.” He wrote that Brussels will find it “impossible to hold back the UK and impossible to stop this country taking advantage of our new freedoms – and we will go ever faster”.
Boris Johnson approval ratings
Referring to hostilities in Ukraine, the PM said that when the two sides disagreed “the only person who benefits is (Russian president Vladimir) Putin”.
“We can find a solution that respects the EU single market, and the sovereign and territorial integrity of the UK single market – and which also addresses the need for balance under the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement,” he added.
A government document entitled “The Benefits of Brexit: how the UK is taking advantage of leaving the EU” will be published, outlining reforms being taken with Brexit powers.
Reminding the Tory backbench and Conservative voters about his Brexit track record could help see off a rebellion over allegations of lockdown-breaking parties that has led to an attempt to oust him by some MPs.
In last night’s statement, Mr Johnson said Brexit was “a truly historic moment and the start of an exciting new chapter for our country”. He added: “We have made huge strides [to] capitalise on our newfound freedoms and restore the UK’s status as a sovereign, independent country that can determine its own future. The plans we have set out today will further unleash the benefits of Brexit and ensure that businesses can spend more of their money investing, innovating and creating jobs.”
UK exports have recovered from Brexit but Britain has missed out on a global trade boom
The upbeat assessment of the UK’s track record outside of the EU is likely to be challenged by pro-Europe critics who have noted analysis of the economic impact. The independent Office for Budget Responsibility has estimated that the UK’s economic growth has been lower since Brexit than it would have been if the UK remained in the EU.
The new legislation is designed to speed up the process for changing laws that were adopted by the UK during the country’s EU membership.
There are around 20,000 such pieces of legislation, according to estimates from the House of Commons library.
Government sources argue that the process of overturning each such piece of law would be too time consuming and are proposing a streamlined process for doing so. However, opponents will be watching closely for the details of the proposed legislation and whether it gives Cabinet ministers too much power to change laws without full scrutiny.
In a piece for the Telegraph on Monday, Suella Braverman, the Attorney General, outlines her argument for why the legislation is needed.
Ms Braverman writes: “The Brexit Freedoms Bill, announced today, will remove, once and for all, the special status and supremacy of EU law within the UK legal system. It will also make it easier to remove or amend EU law: reflecting the sheer volume of law that needs to be changed, and the underlying lack of democratic legitimacy in the way these came onto the UK statute book. We will work with Parliament on how to frame such a power and ensure its use has the appropriate levels of parliamentary scrutiny.”
The Prime Minister is still facing questions as to whether there will be a staff shake-up in Downing Street, and last night Lord Frost, the former UK Brexit chief negotiator, refused to rule out taking over the operation in No 10 after criticising current advisers.