I am no arsonist!: Kemi defends her decision to douse bonfire of EU laws

Kemi Badenoch clashes with leading Brexiteer

Kemi Badenoch defended her decision to water down a planned bonfire of hated EU laws by insisting: “I am not an arsonist, I’m a Conservative.”

The Trade Secretary has sparked fury among Tory Eurosceptics after the plan to remove 4,000 EU laws by the end of December was cut to 600.

Grilled on the change by the Brexiteer-dominated European Scrutiny Committee, she said: “I don’t think a bonfire of regulations is what we wanted.

“What we wanted was reform and removal of things we didn’t need.”

In a spat with Tory MP David Jones, he accused her of being ­“disrespectful” by changing a law that had been approved by the Commons.

He said: “What I’m finding difficult to understand is that when a Bill passes through unamended – and clearly has the complete approbation of the Commons – you then change your approach completely.”

Ms Badenoch responded: “Something you’re not saying is we had private meetings where we discussed this extensively. It’s public knowledge we had private meetings.

“When I thought we were having private meetings, I was reading the content in [a newspaper].”

She continued: “What is the point of us voting through legislation that is not doing what we want just so we can say, ‘Well we have passed this?’

“Our job is to deliver for the people of this country and what the people of this country want is reform which makes their lives better – not just saying we have deleted things from the statute book.”

The Cabinet minister was also asked whether the changes to the Bill were part of a deal with the EU to secure the Windsor Framework.

The agreement with Brussels aimed to resolve Unionist concerns about the impact of the Brexit deal on Northern Ireland. Ms Badenoch told South Dorset MP Richard Drax it had “nothing to do with it”.

In his 2022 Tory leadership ­campaign, Rishi Sunak pledged to “review or repeal” EU laws within his first 100 days in No10 – a deadline that passed in February. Officials previously said the 2023 deadline should be extended to 2026

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