Rory Broomfield says the extent of the UK’s post-Brexit freedom should be measured by the country’s success in repealing existing EU laws. 

So, it’s done: Article 50 has been triggered and we’re leaving the EU! But Brexit is a process, and there are still challenges ahead. If we want to build a free society then we need to start by repealing EU law.

The Government will introduce their initial plans through the so-called ‘Great Repeal Bill’ that is set to establish all EU law in UK Statute. But this could be merely a transfer, not an actual repeal. As stated in this morning’s City AM ‘City View’: “While the name sounds like a dream to those of us who’d rather see less red tape wrapped around every segment of the economy, the bill holds no guarantee of a reduction in government interference”.

In an article I wrote for Comment Central last year, I channelled Margaret Thatcher by saying that we have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the EU, only to see them re-imposed at a Westminster level. Of course, the UK hasn’t left the EU yet – but we soon will. Nonetheless, without action taken now, we might be stuck with ill-fitting and cumbersome legal frameworks for many years, even after having left.

Therein lies the problem: will the UK leave the EU but merely to reimpose the shackles of the EU onto it going forward? I hope not, but it will take more than hope to ensure that the UK is able to open and become the “beacon of openness” that entrepreneurs, investors, freedom-loving individuals and even the Secretary of State for Business, Greg Clark, say they want.

If the Repeal Bill goes through, the good news would be that laws will be there to be unpicked – and that the bill represents one step further along a process where the European Court of Justice stops having the final say over UK law. But the challenge would be to repeal, reshape or reframe all EU law going forward – a mammoth task that could possibly take a generation to unwind.

One solution is to have a cut-off date. Both John Longworth, former Director-General of the British Chambers of Commerce and now co-Chairman of Leave Means Leave, and Mark Littlewood, Director-General of the Institute of Economic Affairs, have suggested sunset clauses for EU law. This could work, if a Royal Commission is set up to review the regulations in the interim.

Another solution is to not make the transfer at all and, instead of transferring laws to be repealed, actually repeal the laws. This would allow the UK – in the next two years before we officially leave – to remake new laws that fit what suits the UK, rather than what suited the EU. This “bottom-up” rather than “top-down” approach has its advantages as it will allow the UK to make bespoke laws afresh – freeing ourselves from the costly and ill-fitting laws that came via the EU with new ones that suit the UK’s economy.

Of course, that would keep our politicians busy – but that’s what we pay them for. And before they say that they have no idea what to do – that there’s no plan – maybe they can look at all the excellent think-tank reports, publications and ideas that have been published over the past decade. Or, better yet, they can set up a Royal Commission with independent experts that will report back with ideas on new laws in a year’s time, giving a year of political debate in Parliament regarding implementation before the UK leaves.

It seems most likely though that the UK Government will take the easy way out and merely transfer the body of EU law onto the UK.

In this scenario, those that believe in the principles of a free society need to respond in a concerted effort to inform each department of what sort of laws the UK should scrap – and how – to create a business friendly, outward looking, globally competitive environment that capitalises on the opportunity of leaving the EU.

This would need to be done by a host of subject specific experts in a way that is easily understandable, implementable and politically sellable. It would have to be done by a range of think tanks, pressure groups, politicians and individuals, all wanting to make the UK free again.

It is a challenge to all those that want to see the start of a free society. We need to work together to free the UK in a way that allows it to be truly free and better off out.

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