Boris Johnson has pledged to move “further and faster” to make the most of Brexit in a message marking the first anniversary since the end of the UK-European Union transition period.
Thousands of EU regulations automatically rolled onto British statute books in January 2021 at the end of the period as a result of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act.
These are now being examined individually with a view to reforming or removing rules that the Government does not deem beneficial to Britons and businesses.
“A year ago today, we entered our new relationship with the EU through the world’s biggest ever zero-tariff, zero-quota free trade deal: the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement,” Mr Johnson said on Friday night.
“That was just the start. Our mission since has been to maximise the benefits of Brexit so that we can thrive as a modern, dynamic and independent country.
“We’ve replaced free movement with a points-based immigration system. We’ve secured the fastest vaccine rollout anywhere in Europe last year by avoiding sluggish EU processes. And from Singapore to Switzerland, we’ve negotiated ambitious free trade deals to boost jobs and investment here at home.”
Mr Johnson hailed cuts to beer duty in the Budget and the restoration of the crown stamp to pint glasses as examples of how his government was “restoring common sense to our rulebook”.
“The job isn’t finished and we must keep up the momentum. In the year ahead, my government will go further and faster to deliver on the promise of Brexit and take advantage of the enormous potential that our new freedoms bring.”
The rollout of 133 million vaccine doses, free trade deals with more than 70 countries and the end of the controversial “tampon tax” have been hailed by Number 10 as key achievements since the Brexit deal.
Whitehall staff have also been tasked with implementing the recommendations of the Taskforce for Regulatory Reform, Innovation and Growth, led by Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader.
‘Pro-growth’ portfolio of post-Brexit changes
The Taskforce reported to the Prime Minister in June 2021. Its recommendations include a “pro-growth” data rights regime that ministers consider more proportionate than GDPR rules set by Brussels, changing the rules on gene-edited organisms, and the modernisation of vehicle standards.
Downing Street also plans to enhance its work on artificial intelligence and change the law around medical devices to make the most of pioneering technology, while maintaining NHS patient safety.
It is hoped that the Government’s post-Brexit agriculture reforms, which could see gene-edited food grown in English fields, could give some farmers a competitive advantage over European exporters who are bound by tight regulations.
In its report, the Taskforce concluded: “Regulation can be both an unnecessary barrier to growth for many businesses and a catalyst for investment in new sectors. Bad regulation is ineffective, expensive and difficult to implement… [but] good regulation, set up in the right way, can be a vital part of the infrastructure to support growth.”
On Friday night, it was reported ministers want to relax immigration rules for Indians to make it easier for them to live and work in the UK, ahead of trade talks in coming weeks.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the International Trade Secretary, is expected to travel to Delhi in January and will use the visit to explore immigration schemes that could allow thousands to move from the subcontinent, The Times reported.