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  • BBC

Brexit: EU laws overhaul will boost growth, vows Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has vowed that a plan to overhaul EU laws copied over after Brexit will encourage business to invest in the UK.

The prime minister said a "Brexit Freedoms Bill" will make it easier to change thousands of EU-era regulations that remain in force.

He said the it would allow the UK to set growth-friendly rules for "cutting edge technologies of the future".

But the plan has been criticised by the devolved administrations.

Since Brexit the UK has moved away from EU laws in certain areas, including on immigration, payments to farmers, and gene-editing rules for crops.

But the prime minister has been under increasing pressure in recent months from MPs on the right of his party to go further.

Former Brexit minister Lord Frost resigned last year, calling for the government to deliver on the opportunities Brexit presented, adding in his letter to the PM: "You know my concerns about the current direction of travel."

In an announcement for the two-year anniversary of the UK's exit from the EU, No 10 said its new bill would ensure changes can be made more easily.

Speaking on Monday, Mr Johnson said it would allow the UK to shape better regulations in areas where it is "strong" - citing areas like cyber technology, artificial intelligence, and gene editing.

"There are things that we can do differently in a way that will encourage business to invest even more," he told reporters.

"We won't diverge for the sake of it, but we're going to make sure this is the number one place to invest and do business because of freedoms that we have," he added.

Downing Street said the changes would build on others since Brexit, which include:

a move to simplify alcohol duties from 2023 by moving way from EU-wide rules

scrapping the EU-mandated 5% rate of VAT on tampons

creating a new UK regime for regulating government support to industry

The UK copied over the laws to smooth its exit from the EU on 31 January 2020, and kept them during a transition period that ended in January 2021.

Since September, the government has been reviewing which of these it wants to keep in place, ditch or amend.

Under Brexit withdrawal legislation passed in 2018, retained EU laws have a legal status of their own - and a special process for changing them.

Downing Street said it wanted to make it easier for MPs to change these laws, arguing that removing or changing them could otherwise take years.

It did not specify the provisions in the bill or how it calculated a claim that businesses would save £1bn through the cutting of red tape.




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