Kemi Badenoch takes swipe back at Tory Brexiteers over EU law bonfire

Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch hits back at Tory MP critics

Kemi Badenoch tonight hit back at Tory MPs over the scaling down of a post-Brexit bonfire of EU laws.

Conservative Eurosceptics have reacted with fury to the decision to axe just 600 retained laws from Brussels rather than the 4,000 pledged.

But in a huge swipe back at critics, the Business and Trade Secretary said “there are a lot of people who talk but can’t do”, adding that she is responsible for the “thinking and the doing”.

Ms Badenoch also suggested some Tory Brexiteers were unable to even cite the legislation they wanted culling.

She told TalkTV’s First Edition programme: “There are a lot of people who talk but can’t do.

“I went in there, I spent quite a few months going through the detail. I asked MPs who had been in that meeting what they wanted to remove and they couldn’t say anything.

“And I think that is more illustrative of the problem we have. There are too many people who spend a lot of time talking, I need to do the thinking and the doing.

“There are many people across Parliament, in the media, and in the commentariat, who make a lot of noise but they’re not the ones who have to do the doing.”

Ms Badenoch added: “What I’ve done is change the approach and I think it’s the right thing for the legislative programme that we have and for the country.”

The Government had originally planned to junk all laws carried over from the bloc by the end of 2023 under the Retained EU Law Bill.

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But the climbdown has sparked a backlash from Conservative MPs on the right of the party.

In the Commons earlier, Ms Badenoch insisted the decision to scale back the bonfire was hers and not Rishi Sunak’s.

Mark Francois, who is chairman of the powerful European Research Group of Tory Eurosceptics, pointed out there had been a majority of Tory support for the Bill in the Commons.

Mr Francois said: “Why, then, when it’s gone to the House of Lords has the Government performed a massive climbdown on its own Bill despite having such strong support from its own backbenches? Secretary of State, what on earth are you playing at?”

Ms Badenoch replied: “He should know that I am not somebody who gets pushed around lightly. The fact is I went in and looked at the detail and I decided this was the best way to deliver it.

“This was not, and I will stress again, this was not the Prime Minister’s decision.

“As a Secretary of State I have to be responsible and look at what we can make sure is deliverable. This is the best way to get him what he wants.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg, who originally steered the Bill through the Commons as business secretary, asked: “Will she explain whether this abdication to the House of Lords has come about because of civil service idleness or a lack of ministerial drive?”

Ms Badenoch replied: “No, I don’t think it has come out of any idleness. If anything, I would say the civil servants have been working feverishly on this.

“What they have been doing is preserving, not repealing, and certainly not getting the reforms that we want. This approach means that we can now do that.”

Meanwhile, former justice secretary Dominic Raab urged Ms Badenoch to “resist the resistance in Whitehall”.

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