Differing from the EU is not a bad thing

by Matthew Eason

Now that we have left the European Union, it is right that the Government starts the long process of analysing and pruning the legislation that we have adopted at its behest while we were members. After all, up until the point that we had actually left, all of the EU’s laws have been transposed into domestic legislation.

Part of this will include the arduous, and already complained about, process of removing references to EU bodies and processes and replacing them with our domestic equivalents. The so-called “Operation Bleach” hit the headlines at the start of last week. Of course, this was seized upon by some as some sort of attempt to ensure that the UK would not be able to rejoin the EU.

While it may make good headlines to say this, I cannot see how this could possibly work. Firstly, why would this prevent a truly determined future government with a Parliamentary majority from trying to rejoin? They would simply be able to order a new operation that would convert all new EU laws and such into the UK system.

A functioning statute book without references to EU law will prevent misunderstandings and attempts to exert ECJ influence over Britain – an organisation that thankfully no longer has any standing in Britain.

At the end of the week, this negative obsession with the UK being once again free to diverge from EU legislation once again came roaring back into the frame with the FT reporting that the Government planned to “dilute” UK workers’ rights by certain protections that EU laws offered.

Of course, this appears to be a highly subjective way to frame the debate, and certainly one in line with the FT’s editorial pro-EU stance. Firstly, the UK has enjoyed superior workers’ rights legislation to the rest of the EU – indeed it could be suggested that the EU’s mandated protections damage the workforce by holding back nations from creating targeted rules for their individual circumstances. This is not to mention the burden that these regulations can place on small or new businesses, which discourages and prevents them from ever expanding beyond their initial one or two employees – thus stifling entrepreneurship and innovation in the business sector.

Moreover, the newly independent UK should be taking no lectures on workers’ rights, or any rights, from those who hold up EU standards as the highest paragon of virtue or the EU itself as the moral guardian of rights and standards. One only needs to hold up the EU’s negotiations with the UK, which shared the EU’s entire acquis, and compare them to their shameful, obsequious negotiations with the Chinese regime. We must not forget China’s stance on human rights and workers’ rights. Look at what that regime is doing to the Uighur minority in Xinjiang, what it is doing to Hong Kong, and what it has routinely done to its other citizens.

The naysayers and doom-talkers are continually missing the point of the UK government looking at ways to reform or improve or laws. Now we have left the EU we can replace laws that are not suitable for the UK with something better and more in line with our higher standards. That was one of the main points of Brexit – something some still do not seem to understand.

Our sovereign Parliament can change UK legislation in any manner it deems appropriate. As can a future Parliament, we are no longer beholden to those with no direct democratic link to the UK and we are much the better for it.

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