Theresa May was right to announce a Great Repeal Bill. But that’s just the end of the beginning – and we shouldn’t have EU law re-imposed from Westminster, says Rory Broomfield.
There was great news out of this week’s Conservative Party Conference as it was announced that the government will introduce a “Great Repeal Bill” to overturn the 1972 European Communities Act at some point after the Queen’s Speech next year. This is a welcome step, but it’s merely the beginning of the end in so far as ensuring the UK is better off out.
The United Kingdom, since joining the “European Project” in 1973, has become engulfed with regulations and directives that have taken control and competitiveness away from its people, politicians and economy. With control over areas such as agriculture, energy, fisheries, finance and all trade policy with other countries now on the cards to come back to the UK, leaving the Single Market and initiating a Great Repeal Bill could herald a golden opportunity for our politics and our economy.
The potential benefits of leaving the EU are vast and in Cutting the Gordian Knot: A Roadmap for British Exit from the European Union, Iain Murray and I set out a number of further steps that she can take to capitalise on this opportunity.
One step to take ahold of this opportunity is to set up a Royal Commission on Regulatory Reduction with special powers to present packages of reforms before Parliament is proposed to help unwind unwanted EU laws. This would, naturally, include consideration of EU directives and regulations over the past 43 years.
However, what we heard from Theresa May yesterday should indicate that this is far from certain. In her speech on the last day of conference, the Prime Minister made it clear that in her eyes the state can be a force for good within markets and indeed promised to involve it further in a whole range of areas – new and old.
Yet, there are some markets that are developing, innovating and in some cases saving lives without the need for government involvement – especially the need for new regulations that are due to be implemented by the European Union.
Some of these EU measures pose a threat to both the economy and, given some are due to be fully implemented only after the result of the vote in June, our democratic process. They also pose a threat to the development of life saving technologies. An example of one of these is the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). This EU directive was passed in May 2016 and is due to be fully implemented by the end of the year. The directive will impose a ban on advertising for vaping, the implementation of the maximum size of the tanks used, a maximum the size of the e-liquid bottles and cap the strength of e-liquids. All in all, it is a regressive set of measures that looks to demonise individuals wishing to vape, increase the costs of production and hinder innovation that could improve this potentially life saving activity.
Ultimately, the TPD should be repealed and The Freedom Association is right at the forefront in calling for it, and other EU measures, to be repealed.
Over the conference season, The Freedom Association launched its Freedom to Vape campaign at both the UKIP and the Conservative Party conferences. We were overwhelmed by the support it received, especially at the Conservative Party conference. It is obvious to me that people don’t want the EU messing with their lives and, for the improvement of a product that Public Health England has said is around 95% less harmful than tobacco to be hindered in this way should provoke some serious thought in Whitehall and elsewhere about alternatives to this harmful set of regulations.
Leaving the EU is a golden opportunity. Unlike other EU nations, the UK has a chance to improve the lives of individuals and ensure that products such as e-cigarettes and activities such as vaping, which have the potential to save lives, are championed and not left to die because of legacy EU legislation.
But there is a warning. , I understand the government wishes the Great Repeal Bill to enshrine the EU law within the UK. This must not happen. Some, like John Longworth and Mark Littlewood, have called on a sunset clause to be instituted so that EU law has a date on which it ceases to have effect. This would be welcome, along with the review period conducted by a Royal Commission on Regulatory Reduction so as to help the transition.
It is Theresa May’s moment to shine. The Great Repeal Bill is an excellent step in the right direction, but it’s only the end of the beginning. To channel a great lady: We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the EU, only to see them re-imposed at a Westminster level.