Britain’s decentralized administrations have warned that Boris Johnson’s plans to cut back on bureaucracy worth £ 1bn. for business by removing older EU laws risks driving a “trainer and horses” through the country’s constitutional settlement.
Representatives of the Scottish and Welsh administrations expressed their concerns over the weekend in a phone call with British Justice Minister Suella Braverman and other ministers, according to two people briefed on the exchanges.
The Prime Minister is due to unveil a bill on Brexit freedoms on Monday, which will facilitate the amendment or removal of EU laws that remained in the UK law book after Brexit, as a bridging measure to provide legal certainty to business and society.
The government wants to repeal and replace outdated EU laws so it can cut £ 1bn in bureaucracy for UK companies.
Ministers will also on Monday publish a 100-page “Benefits of Brexit” policy document that will set out areas where the government believes that deregulation after leaving the EU could help the country gain a competitive advantage in areas such as gene editing and artificial intelligence. .
Johnson said the Brexit freedoms bill would “further unlock the benefits of Brexit” and help drive investment and job creation.
Braverman said it was “important” to create a mechanism to do away with EU law, which she claimed was created as a result of “unsatisfactory compromises” from bloc member states and now had “no democratic legitimacy” in Britain.
“It is important to establish a mechanism to deal with these old EU rules,” she added. “It supports our ability to seize important opportunities that Brexit provides.”
However, the Scottish and Welsh authorities fear that the new legislation will give Westminster powers in key areas such as fisheries as well as environmental, food and water standards, which have long been handed over to Edinburgh and Cardiff.
Two people from the decentralized administrations who were present during the call with Braverman said the state attorney received a “bleaching” for not consulting more fully about the plans.
“Braverman read straight from her screen and talked about ‘Brexit opportunities’, but when there were questions, she only answered with phrases,” said one of these people. “The whole meeting was convened at the last minute, as if to say ‘This is what we are going to do’.”
Mick Antoniw, the Welsh minister for the constitution, said the British government’s approach was to drive a “trainer and horses through the concept of mutual consent”, after which the decentralization agreement was designed to operate.
“The government has not been able to provide assurances that its plans for future changes in the handling of ‘retained’ EU legislation would not affect the decentralization settlement,” he added.
Angus Robertson, the Scottish Minister for the Constitution, reiterated these concerns, describing the Brexit Freedom Bill as another step in eroding the powers of decentralized administrations.
“What this Brexit document is about is the next phase of a seizure of power after Brexit,” he added. “They would argue that it’s about the efficiency of the market and the creation of effective equal conditions, but it’s not really about that.”
The British government said the details of the Brexit freedoms bill would be outlined “in due course”.
“We continue to work closely with the decentralized administrations to ensure that a common approach can be taken, with powers and legislation returned from the EU, crossing policy areas that fall within decentralized competences,” it added.