Jayne Adye is the Director of Get Britain Out.
On December 31 2021, it’ll have been a year since the Brexit Transition Period ended and the UK officially left the European Union, but this country has done very little to move forward and separate itself from the regulatory grasp of the EU.
There have been grand speeches from the Prime Minister and sections of Government established to investigate opportunities, but time and again action is not taken and opportunities are lost or diminished. We simply cannot afford to continue wasting time, because the longer we wait the more chances we give to our competitors to adjust and change their own regulations to gain an advantage over us.
In 2020 alone the UK took on-board 975 new regulations originating from the EU, despite no longer being a member of its political institutions – this was before hundreds of thousands more were copied across on December 31 2020 as part of so-called ‘Retained EU Law’.
Officially, there are a massive 150,000 pieces of EU legislation in effect in the UK at the moment – although it is estimated of these, only 3,000 have practical impacts on the UK – it is still a massive number.
This is why Get Britain Out has compiled its own analysis of EU Regulations still in force in the UK, which the Government should, and can, revoke or reform quickly and efficiently to impact the whole of Great Britain.
If these are to be implemented across the whole of the UK – including Northern Ireland – then this will require either total revocation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, or a significant renegotiation. Our findings cover 11 sectors of the UK and encapsulate issues which were at the heart of the Brexit debate:
- financial services;
- data regulations and properly replacing GDPR;
- fully breaking away from EU ‘State Aid’ legislation;
- ending the vulnerability of UK citizens to foreign courts;
- defence and procurement reform;
- the aviation industry;
- tax reform;
- correcting the injustices of the Weights and Measures Act of 1985; and
- regulations governing our ports.
There has undoubtedly been a loss of focus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there is no excuse for what appears to be a fundamental lack of ambition to look beyond the current situation and realise embracing Brexit will be the key to allowing the UK to reach its potential and fully recover from the pandemic.
This is not to mention the fact it has now been over five years since this country voted to Leave – plenty of time for successive Governments to put plans in place, as well as execute them, including lengthy consultations. However, during that time, those in the Civil Service ‘Blob’ seem to have decided such vital work is not in their interest, as their focus appears to have been intent on trying to make sure we will end up still being part of the EU.
By no means are our findings exhaustive and there are a great number of other areas in which the Government should bring about reform. But it is about time this Government finally embraces the implementation of change, rather than appearing to be hiding behind the Covid-19 pandemic and the continuing focus on climate change – regardless of the cost to individuals and the public’s finances, or whether the infrastructure and products are ready to back it up.
In addition, Boris Johnson seems to be allowing the legislative agenda to be blown off course by an unelected, largely ‘Remain’ Civil Service ‘Blob’, which has shown itself to be extremely reluctant to implement what Ministers want.
There are large swathes of European Union Regulations which still govern this country, despite it being over five years since we voted to Leave the EU. It’s also now almost a year since the end of the transition period, which, may I remind everyone, was supposed to be a time during which many of these regulatory changes should have been implemented to get the UK ready for life as an independent country.
However, these years have been wasted, not just by this Government, but also by the former Prime Minister, Theresa May and her Cabinet, who devoted so much time to a mentality of damage limitation as they refused to embrace the opportunities of Brexit.
The regulations we have identified were created and imposed upon this country by a bureaucracy-obsessed, vast European federalist political project which we did not vote to support when we went into the European Economic Community.
They are not suitable for an independent and global UK. Using the powers, we have regained from the European Union, we must urgently amend and update these regulations to fit our own values and priorities to fundamentally help this country get back on its feet and stay strong against economic turbulence which may be down the road.
Key to any success should be a clear consistent vision from those at the top. Instead of acting as if ‘Brexit is done’ and ignoring the outstanding issues, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet must also take full control of their departments – by quickly making changes to the Civil Service where required – and focus the power of Government on generating real change.
Only by breaking away from the current focus on the Covid Pandemic and climate change, can we hope to allow an independent ‘Global Britain’ to reach its full potential.