Rishi Sunak video fails to say some retained EU laws have already been repealed or replaced

8 August 2022
What was claimed

There are 2,400 post-Brexit EU laws on our statute book.

Our verdict

According to government figures, of the 2,417 retained EU laws, 229 have already been repealed or replaced. A number of others have also been amended.

“In his first 100 days as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will review or repeal post-Brexit EU Laws… all 2,400 of them”.

In a new campaign video shared on Twitter, Conservative leadership candidate Rishi Sunak has repeated his pledge to review or repeal 2,400 EU laws if he becomes Prime Minister. 

However, he fails to state that over 200 of these laws have already been repealed or replaced, while a number of others have also been amended.

The video shows someone carrying in several boxes with documents labelled “EU Legislation”, “EU Red Tape” and “EU Bureaucracy” into a room marked “Brexit Delivery Department”, which the person then begins to shred.

Mr Sunak shared the video, saying: “A new Brexit delivery unit. Reviewing every EU law on our statute book. Starting in my first 100 days.”

We’ve written about this claim before, after Mr Sunak first made the promise in The Telegraph on 16 July, where he said: “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.”

Mr Sunak has so far not answered our questions about where the number comes from, but it is similar to the 2,417 items listed on the government’s retained EU law dashboard, which shows that over 200 of these have already been repealed or replaced.

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What has happened to EU laws?

Retained EU law is a type of domestic legislation that was created following the end of the UK’s transition period to exit the EU on 31 December 2020. Existing EU laws which applied in the UK were effectively copied and pasted onto the UK’s statute books, so they would still apply following the end of the transition period. 

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

Of these, 196 have been repealed. A further 33 are marked as having been replaced, which means they have been repealed and new legislation has been introduced. In addition, some 182 are marked on the dashboard as having been amended, meaning they have been substantially changed to alter the intent or outcome of the policy, though the extent to which they have been amended may vary.

Mr Sunak’s video does not appear to account for these laws which have already been repealed or replaced, or acknowledge that some have also been amended. We’ve contacted his campaign for comment.

The government’s dashboard is the result of a cross-government exercise to identify retained EU law. It is updated quarterly, so it 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.

Image courtesy of Chris McAndrew

Update 8 August 2022

We have updated this article to make a clearer distinction between laws that have been repealed, replaced and amended.

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