A bonfire of EU laws is unlikely to take place this year as promised, it was claimed last night.
The Government has pledged to remove as many as 4,000 pieces of legislation originating in Brussels by December, after ministers have decided which ones need to be kept or ditched.
However the scale of the task is so great that Whitehall believes it cannot be completed in time, as thousands of officials would be needed to review the detailed regulations. Some departments want the deadline extended until 2026.
The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill is also expected to face fierce opposition when it reaches the House of Lords next month.
One source told The Times: ‘If the object is to review all these regulations properly rather than just cut and paste them into UK law then we’ll need more time.
‘It’s an entirely arbitrary deadline. We’re going to have to make a concession to get it through.’
The likely delay has angered Eurosceptic Tories who are keen for the Government to deliver benefits of Brexit.
It will also be damaging for Rishi Sunak, who vowed in the summer leadership campaign to scrap EU laws in his first 100 days as Prime Minister.
Former business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said: ‘There is no reason to give in to the unelected remainers in the House of Lords who have consistently wanted to thwart Brexit.
‘Repealing EU law and replacing it with domestic law seven years after we voted to leave is not especially ambitious and departments ought to be ready to do it.’
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy insisted: ‘The programme to review, revoke and reform retained EU law is under way and there are no plans to change the sunset deadline for any government departments.’
Read More: Bonfire of EU laws is now ‘unlikely to take place in 2023’