During the referendum campaign I was asked by some of Remain opponents to name a regulation or rule we would want to repeal once we left the EU. I guess it was one of their trick challenges. They expected the Leave spokesman to fail to name one so they could claim there was no point in complaining about all the requirements we did not like. Failing that response, they hoped we would demand an end to employment protections which were important to many Leave voters.
I was always grateful for this question. It enabled me to remind audiences the Leave campaign recommended keeping all the EU employment protections on leaving. It reminded us all that the Conservative and Labour parties both said they would keep the minimum requirements the EU laid down, as we often exceeded them anyway. In future Parliament will be able to decide how much further to go as we do today.
It also enabled me to start listing the requirements we would like to drop. They usually wanted to shorten the list once I started. I began with proposing the abolition of VAT on sanitary products, then recommending the abolition of VAT on green products, moving on to the abolition of VAT on domestic fuel and wanting to change the EU decisions which had led to substantial rebates of Corporation Tax for some big companies. In despair they would sometimes ask for a non tax one!
I would then get stuck into the fishing regulations, proposing a substantial reform to protect our fish stocks and give more priority to UK vessels. I followed that up with changes to the agricultural regime which had penalised parts of the UK industry in the past.
To those who now write to me and ask how the non tariff barriers and arrangements will work after Brexit, I have an easy answer. We will transfer all current EU regulations and decisions into UK law. After we have passed the EU Repeal Act we will then be free to decide which former EU laws and decisions we wish to amend. I propose we start with the tax ones and move on to create our own fishing and agricultural policies first. Repeal will not include the rules on how products and services have to be arranged to be fit to sell on the continent, as these rules then as now will still apply to anything we wish to export. What will be different after leaving is we will have the right to change the rules and specifications for the majority UK domestic trade and for non EU trade if we wish.