Putting the lead back in paint, the sewage back on beaches and enhancing the lethality of children’s toys. These are just some of the “opportunities” for deregulation offered in Sajid Javid’s call for the public to propose ways to diverge from the EU rulebook.
Slashing European regulation has long been an article of faith for the Tory party, fulfilling both its Thatcherite and Europhobic instincts. No matter that recent history – from the global financial crisis to the tragedy at Grenfell Tower – has taught us that regulation is a public good to be protected, not an evil to be eradicated.
Just like Boris Johnson, Javid has learned to live outside history, eschewing any responsibility for his party’s decade in power. Brexit is presented as a fresh start for the country and the government. The idea of divergence is crucial to provide Brexit with a sense of purpose.
But the truth is Brexit will create a more bureaucratic state rather than a more agile one. The UK now needs to build its own regulatory functions in Whitehall to replace those that were delegated to Brussels. From medicines to chemicals to aviation, the UK will need to replicate European agencies, no matter the chancellor’s ideological bent. Instead of sharing these regulatory functions with 27 other states, Britain will now need to shoulder the responsibility alone. Brexit will be a boon for British bureaucrats.