Johnson pleads with business leaders: give me a reason for Brexit

Johnson scratching his head
Chatham House, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Within 24 hours of Yorkshire Bylines posting an article about the government’s lack of a coherent strategy or even a slight hint of what EU legislation might be scrapped using our post Brexit freedoms, it appears the prime minister has been reduced to pleading with business leaders to come up with ideas to help him justify Brexit.

After multiple failed government drives to identify burdensome red tape, Johnson appears to be sub-contracting the issue to the private sector.

In a conference call on Wednesday, reported by Bloomberg, Boris Johnson asked business leaders to “help him decide which regulations should be ripped up now that the UK has completed its divorce from the European Union”.

This is an amazing admission. It has been widely reported that most industries, particularly chemicals, automotive and aviation, but others too, have called for Britain to remain a member of the EU agencies that govern their sectors in Europe. Most companies don’t want to diverge at all, knowing this will be a far greater burden than any that the present regulations imposes.

Divergence can only add to the massive extra bureaucracy which the trade deal saddles British industry with, through extra border formalities and customs red tape.

It’s confirmation that Johnson really doesn’t understand business and has no more idea now what he plans to do with our expensively purchased ‘sovereignty’ than he did in February 2016 when he leapt on the Brexit bandwagon.

Bloomberg says Johnson made the offer during the call with around 250 corporate leaders, according to people with knowledge of the matter. He asked what red tape could be cut to make life easier for Britain’s companies to operate after Brexit. I assume the answer was a stunned silence.

Meanwhile, the Brexiters favourite guru, Daniel Hannan, newly elevated to the peerage by Boris Johnson, has his own ideas about which regulations need to be dumped. Writing for the Conservative Home website Hannan wants to ‘boost’ our economy by scrapping whole swathes of regulations.

“Then there are the regulatory barriers – everything from planning restrictions that inflate the cost of housing to staff ratio rules that give us the most expensive childcare in Europe. I could fill a longer article than this one simply by listing them. Consider, as just one subsection, the EU laws we can now disapply: the Temporary Workers’ Directive, the REACH Directive, the End of Life Vehicles Directive, the droit de suite rules and other regulations that hurt London’s fine arts market, the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, chunks of MiFID II, GDPR, the bans on GM”.

Daniel Hannan Conservative Home 6 January 2021

The End of Life Vehicles Directive by the way, is largely about the design and manufacture of vehicles to make them easier to dispose of when they’re scrapped. If we abandon that rule we cut ourselves off from the EU market, so it’s not clear how it would boost anything – and certainly not in the short term.

All his suggestions would come with a cost if the EU perceive them as giving us an advantage anyway. The wait to discover where the divergences are to come, goes on.

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