Laws after Brexit

Senior Tory MPs have begun pushing for a list of regulations affecting companies to tear up after Brexit, even though Theresa May has promised to carry over all EU law into British law.

Two former cabinet ministers, John Whittingdale and Michael Gove, suggested to the CBI business group on Wednesday that companies should start drawing up a list of regulations they want to see abolished or reformed.

The two leave campaigners raised the prospect of EU laws being scrapped after the passage of May’s great repeal bill carrying over existing legislation, as they cross-examined witnesses at a session of the Commons committee on exiting the EU.

Gove highlighted a government-commissioned report by Marc Bolland, the former chief executive of Marks & Spencer, which ran through a list of EU employment protections it would like to see withdrawn or changed including pregnant worker proposals, the agency workers directive, the acquired rights directive and the working time directive.

Questioning Carolyn Fairbairn, the director general of the CBI, he asked her: “Would you be able to write back to the committee with a view that your members have on those directives and the current assessment for the applicability or scope for reform of those directives?”

John Whittingdale, the former culture secretary, also asked Fairburn: “To what extent has the CBI examined the opportunities which may exist to reduce the burden on business and are you working on an analysis to present to government for potential repeal or reduction?”

He said he understood the concerns of the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) that it will want to preserve protections for workers deriving from the EU but many pieces of red tape were burdensome that had nothing to do with employment.

John Longworth, the former chair of the British Chamber of Commerce, who campaigned to leave, told the committee that he thought the “opportunities for deregulation are legion”.