The Prime Minister told a rowdy House of Commons today, on Wednesday, that Labour still seeks to “cancel Brexit” while his own party hopes to wreak its benefits. Pushed on whether he would create a new role in Cabinet for exploiting post-Brexit freedoms, Mr Johnson suggested this was a “good idea”. He said: “I’m not going to anticipate any decisions I may make about the Government but I certainly think it would be a good idea to have a minister driving [the] post-Brexit agenda.”
The former Brexit Minister hit back at this idea, insisting there was “not much point” in creating such a role if the Government demonstrates it isn’t interested in making the most of leaving the EU anyway.
In a post on Twitter, he wrote: “There’s not much point in having a minister for the benefits of Brexit if… the Government’s policy is not in fact to get the benefits of Brexit.”
He also linked to an article written by former MEP Lord Hannan in which the Government’s new document laying out “How the UK is taking advantage of leaving the EU” was dismissed as “thin, watery, tasteless gruel”.
The paper, released earlier this week, revealed that Lord Frost’s plan to scrap two retained EU regulations every time a new one was written has been dropped.
It said the “one-in-two-out” rule had “many merits” but was not “consistent with… achieving net zero”.
Many conservative commentators criticised the decision as sending the wrong message to voters who were keen to see Brexit delivering new powers to the UK.
Nigel Gardiner, former aide to Margaret Thatcher, wrote in a post on Twitter: “This is a huge mistake and sends completely the wrong message.
“A Conservative Government must advance conservative policies.”
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As part of this, the Government has committed to pursuing “sustainable development”, encompassing “environmental protection”.
It has also “reaffirmed its ambition of achieving economy-wide climate neutrality [that is, net zero] by 2050”.
This presents the British Government’s commitment to net zero as more a matter of inevitability than a debatable choice under the TCA.
Mr Habib insisted: “We are effectively going to remain a highly-regulated economy for as long as that TCA agreement and the level playing field provision subsists.”
Many Tory activists have stressed Mr Johnson must properly exploit the benefits of Brexit if he hopes to regain favour amid what has been dubbed ‘Partygate’.