Net zero is stopping plans to cut EU red tape, says Kemi Badenoch

Kemi Badenoch clashes with leading Brexiteer

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch has warned that the implementation of a net zero target is hampering Britain’s bid to be more competitive, as well as hindering her efforts to scrap some EU laws.

Badenoch pointed to the commitments of her “predecessors” – namely current Energy Secretary Grant Shapps – to achieving net zero that are making her job more difficult as she looks to slash red tape on businesses.

She was grilled during an appearance at the European Scrutiny Committee, saying she was “not an arsonist” as she clashed with Tory MPs over the decision to scale back post-Brexit plans to scrap EU laws.

The Government had originally promised a “sunset” clause on all laws carried over from the trade bloc by the end of 2023 under its Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill.

But the blanket sunset clause was ditched earlier this year and replaced with a narrowed target of 600 such laws to be revoked by the end of the year, well short of the more than 4,000 previously pledged.

She told the committee: “The principles I’m starting from are what can we do to reduce the burden on business. Commitments have been made by my predecessors around workers’ rights and environmental regulations and so on, and so there are constraints already.

“I’m coming in in a constrained environment. Make life easier for people, make things less complicated, that’s where we have focused on.

“There are some things which I think other departments can do, but they’ve made commitments.

“I’m thinking about the net zero department or transport. They’ve made commitments which are in tension with what I’m trying to do.”

During a fiery back-and-forth with Brexiteer David Jones, Conservative MP for Clywd West, she said: “What we want to do is get rid of laws we don’t need and there is a process for that. It is not the bonfire of regulations.

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“We are not arsonists. I am certainly not an arsonist. I am a Conservative. I don’t think a bonfire of regulations is what we wanted.

“What we wanted was the reform and removal of things we did not need.

“Until I did this, no one knew what was happening. No one knew what was being revoked or reformed.

“And we could end up in a situation where we’re telling ourselves there is a big bonfire of regulations, and no one would have known what would happen until after the sunset.”

Jones said the Commons had in fact voted for a “bonfire” of regulations and said that modifying the Bill in the House of Lords could be seen as “disrespectful” to MPs.

“What I am finding difficult to understand is that when a Bill passes through the House of Commons unamended and therefore clearly has the complete approbation of the House of Commons, you then change your approach completely,” he told his party colleague.

“You don’t tell the Commons you are changing your approach, you don’t have the courtesy to come before this committee, so this committee can scrutinise the changes you are proposing, then you come back to the Commons, it having gone through the Lords, presenting the Commons effectively with a fait accompli.

“Don’t you think that is disrespectful of the House of Commons?”

Badenoch responded: “Something you are not saying, we had private meetings David, we had private meetings where we discussed this extensively, because I knew you had concerns.

“And it is public knowledge we had private meetings, because when I thought I was having private and confidential meetings I was reading the contents in the Daily Telegraph.”

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