Conservative MPs have criticized the UK government for reversing its decision to remove all EU legislation from UK law by the end of 2023. Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch confirmed the move on Wednesday, stating that it was necessary to remove the so-called sunset clause as it posed a risk of “legal uncertainty.” However, staunch Brexiteers within the Conservative ranks have criticized the change, accusing Chancellor Rishi Sunak of reneging on a key pledge of his leadership campaign last summer.
Fiery Session in Commons
A fiery session in the House of Commons began on Thursday with Badenoch receiving a telling off for making the announcement via a written statement. Answering an urgent question on the policy change, she apologized for not meeting the standards expected and began defending the change in government policy. But Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle met her tone with a tirade, stating that her comment was “totally not acceptable.” Members should hear it first, not a written ministerial statement, he added.
Tory Backbenchers Stand to Criticize Plans
A raft of Tory backbenchers stood to criticize the plans, with Mark Francois, who chairs the Brexit-backing European Research Group (ERG), asking why the government had “performed a massive climbdown on its own bill despite having such strong support from its own backbenches.” Sir Desmond Swayne said that the advantage of a sunset clause is it provides a sense of urgency. Michael Fabricant said that Badenoch had been “tin-eared” by not understanding the upset it would cause.
Opposition MPs Criticize Handling of Issue
Badenoch also faced criticism from opposition MPs about its handling of the issue. Labour shadow business minister, Justin Madders, called it “an absolute shambles” and said that it was no use blaming the “blob” or the “anti-growth coalition” or the BBC. The SNP’s Pete Wishart also criticized the minister’s tone during the debate, saying she was “doing herself no favors at all with her patronizing and arrogant manner.” Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Olney echoed his sentiment, saying the Conservative Party was “devouring itself yet again.”
In contrast, a few MPs from her own side offered support, with Tory Sir Bob Neil saying the change in approach was “sensible and pragmatic” and done in “a very Conservative and pro-business fashion.” The move will still see 600 pieces of EU law revoked by the end of the year, and the new approach will allow “the space for longer-term and more ambitious reforms,” according to Badenoch. The government still plans to fully take back control of UK laws and end the supremacy and special status of EU law.
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