Tory leadership: Rishi Sunak woos Brexit supporters with vow to speed up tearing of EU rules


Rishi Sunak is taking the pro-Brexit Tories one step further in the party leadership race, with a vow to tear up EU rules on financial services, data and clinical trials.

The former chancellor said he would decide within 100 days of his appointment as prime minister which of a mountain of 2,400 pending laws and regulations should go. It also promises a “Big Bang 2.0” for the City of London.

Mr Sunak’s rejection of immediate tax cuts is a risk, given the Tory base must choose the party’s new leader, but he points out that – unlike his remaining rival Liz Truss – he campaigned for leave despite the warning “my political career would end”.

And he said: “As Prime Minister, I would go further and faster in using the freedoms Brexit has given us to cut back on the mass of EU regulations and bureaucracy that are holding back our growth. .”

The move comes as a new poll by JL Partners has found Mr Sunak to be the overwhelming choice of voters in the constituencies the Tories must hold on to win the next general election.

The public prefers him in 76% of the 365 seats the party won in 2019, according to the survey – leaving rivals Tom Tugendhat and Penny Mordaunt badly behind, at 19% and 5% respectively.

Ms Truss – who is floundering in the race after being judged to have lost the first televised debate – failed to dominate any of the seats, as did Kemi Badenoch.

The policy was unveiled after Mr Sunak scored an endorsement of the figure seen as the party’s ‘Mr North’, influential Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen.

However, the promised assault on EU laws will trigger a new clash with Brussels if it leads to lower regulatory standards, flouting promises made when the Brexit trade deal was signed.

Last month, European Union Brexit negotiator Maros Sefcovic warned of the “consequences” if the promised level playing field were tilted, saying the EU would “closely monitor developments in the situation”.

In other developments in the race, before a second televised clash on Sunday evening:

  • Ms Truss has launched another major tax cut, to help people take breaks from work for childcare or as carers, despite Mr Sunak’s criticism that his economic plans are ‘a fairy tale fairies”.
  • Mr Tugendhat – the candidate most likely to fall on Monday’s third ballot – insisted he would not give up until then, saying: ‘I have never turned down a challenge because the odds were against me. I don’t intend to start now.
  • Labor has demanded candidates say clearly what spending cuts are needed to deliver the promised ‘billions of pounds in unfunded tax cuts’
  • The Liberal Democrats have urged candidates to rule out a cabinet role for Boris Johnson, to ensure they can start ‘fixing our broken politics’

Mr Sunak remains the preferred candidate of Tory MPs, ahead of new polls to be held from Monday to reduce the five survivors to the final two by Wednesday.

But the winner – and the next Prime Minister – will then be chosen by the Conservative Party’s roughly 180,000 members before Mr Johnson leaves Downing Street on September 6.

The outgoing government is already planning a bonfire of EU ‘withheld law’ in a controversial move that involves the use of behind-the-scenes regulations instead of allowing full scrutiny and votes.

The former chancellor said he would speed up the process, pointing to “heavy” regulation of financial services and promising to “make London the world’s leading financial center again by 2027”.

Mr Sunak would also “remove the burden” of EU data laws which he said “stop UK tech companies from innovating and public services from being able to share data to fight crime”.

In addition, it would “speed up our clinical trial approval process” by creating a one-stop approvals service, underscoring the successful rollout of the Covid vaccine in the UK.

Mr Sunak said: “In 2016 my party leadership told me that if I supported Brexit my political career would end before it even started. I supported Brexit anyway because I knew that it was the right thing for the country.

“We must take advantage of these opportunities by abandoning the mass of unnecessary regulations and the low growth mentality that we inherited from the EU.”

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