Rishi Sunak pledge to review ‘2,400’ remaining EU laws doesn’t tell the full story

18 July 2022
What was claimed

There are 2,400 EU laws still on the UK statute book.

Our verdict

According to government figures, 2,417 items of retained EU law were incorporated into UK statute books after Brexit, but 229 of those have now been repealed or replaced. A further 182 have also been amended.

As prime minister, I would task a new Brexit delivery department with reviewing all of the remaining 2,400 [EU] laws on our statute book.

In an article published by the Telegraph on Saturday, Conservative leadership candidate and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak said there are “2,400 [EU] laws on our statute book”. 

He added that, if he became Prime Minister, he would create a new “Brexit delivery department” which would be focused on removing or reforming these laws in order to “capitalise on the freedoms” of Brexit. 

However, Mr Sunak’s article fails to state that hundreds of the EU laws he described have already been amended, repealed or replaced. 

According to the government’s retained EU law dashboard there are 2,417 items of retained EU law. 

Retained EU law is a type of domestic legislation, created at the end of the UK’s transition period with the EU on 31 December 2020. Existing EU laws which applied in the UK—for example, in agriculture, health and safety or manufacturing—were effectively copied and pasted onto the UK’s statute books. 

Of the 2,417 items of retained EU law, 182 are marked on the government dashboard as having been amended, meaning they have been substantially changed to alter the intent or outcome of the policy, and 196 have been repealed. 

A further 33 are marked as having been replaced, which means they have been repealed and new legislation has been introduced. This means that 2,006 pieces of retained EU legislation remain unchanged.

It’s important to note that while the government’s dashboard is the result of a cross-government exercise to identify retained EU law, it is updated quarterly so may not reflect very recent changes, and it also may not be exhaustive. Some laws included in the dashboard may also be more significant than others. 

Full Fact has contacted Mr Sunak for comment.

Image courtesy of HM Treasury

Correction 19 July 2022

This article has been corrected to clarify that 2,006 is the number of EU laws which the government dashboard shows as remaining unchanged—ie, they have not yet been amended, repealed or replaced.

Update 21 July 2022

This article has also been updated to add further context about the government dashboard figures.

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