British business and trade unions are demanding that the planned bonfire be removed from EU rules

Rishi Sunak is under pressure from a broad alliance of British business, legal, labor and environmental groups to drop controversial plans to automatically remove parts of EU-derived legislation from the UK codebook by the end of next year.

More than a dozen organizations, including the Institute of Directors, the Trades Union Congress and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, warned that the move would “cause significant confusion and disruption” for businesses, workers, consumers and conservationists.

The Retained EU Law Bill, which has been supported by leading Eurosceptics including former business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, is a talismanic piece of legislation for Brexiters, who believe the process will bring a “productivity boost” to the UK economy.

But in a letter sent to corporate secretary Grant Shapps on Wednesday, the groups warned that dumping EU laws would plunge businesses into fresh uncertainty at a time when they are battling skyrocketing utility bills and inflation.

The letter is the latest sign that businesses are taking a more robust approach to the ongoing disruption caused by Brexit. CBI chief Tony Danker this week urged ministers to put aside political motives to make improvements to the UK’s existing trade deal with the EU.

A government spokesman said it was determined to take full advantage of the benefits of Brexit, and was therefore moving forward with the Retained EU Law Bill. “This allows us to ensure that our laws and regulations are best suited to the country’s needs, including ensuring that we continue to protect and improve workers’ rights and support jobs.”

Roger Barker, director of policy and governance at the IoD, said the bill created unnecessary uncertainty for UK businesses as they faced “more pressing issues” given the stagnant economy.

“Getting to grips with any resulting regulatory changes will place a major new burden on business that it could very well do without,” he said.

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, described the legislation as “a recipe for chaos” and added: “This bill passed quickly without consultation and without really thinking about the implications for workers, businesses, consumers and the environment.” She added that it “must be withdrawn before any permanent damage is done”.

The letter comes just days after the government’s Regulatory and Policy Committee (RPC) described the business department’s impact assessment for the bill as not “fit for purpose”.

Other signatories include Greener UK, the Employment Lawyers Association, Civil Society Alliance, Wildlife and Countryside Link, Hope for Justice, Wales Council for Voluntary Action and Wales Civil Society Forum.

Other organisations, from consumer goods group Which? to the NFU and British Safety Council, have also called for the bill to be postponed or scrapped.

Up to 4,000 individual pieces of legislation passed into UK law at the time of Brexit to maintain continuity of law and regulation may be affected by the legislation.

Senior officials have warned that reviewing all legislation in a short space of time will place an impossible burden on Whitehall.

Of particular note is a “sunset clause” that would automatically make any EU-derived law not explicitly “revised or withdrawn” by the government from the UK code before the end of 2023.

The letter warns that this would nullify “decades of case law” and make “the interpretation of the law highly uncertain”, creating “a huge risk that bad or potentially harmful legislation would enter the codebook”, causing vital endanger workers, consumers and the environment. protections.

These range from holiday pay, safe working hours and protection against discrimination to the labeling of meat and eggs and the ban on seal slaughter.

Scrapping these laws could also put the UK “in breach” of the deal former Prime Minister Boris Johnson made with the EU, the letter adds, “with the prospect of additional tariffs being imposed on UK exporters and those who work for them.” harm works”.

Other groups have expressed deep doubts about the scope and pace of the legislation.

Rocio Concha, policy director at Which? said the bill could modernize consumer laws, including those related to the safety of products ranging from child car seats to food products and tech devices.

“This bill is too important to pass quickly — the 2023 deadline with an automatic sunset doesn’t make sense to anyone,” she said.

Nick von Westenholz, director of trade at the NFU, said the agricultural sector supports a systematic review of EU-derived laws to improve the regulatory regime governing agriculture, but warned that the rush could worsen an already uncertain business environment.

“The unnecessarily tight deadlines resulting from the sunset clauses and the sweeping legislative powers that will be given to ministers without proper parliamentary oversight are very worrying,” he said.

Peter McGettrick, chairman of the British Safety Council, the body of the health and safety industry, said the bill risks “opening a legal black hole, leaving businesses in limbo and exposing people to greater risks”.

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