Truss pledges to scrap EU rules if she wins race to be Britain's prime minister

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss promised to set a sunset deadline on every piece of EU-derived regulation. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Liz Truss vowed to scrap all remaining EU laws by the end of 2023 if she becomes prime minister, as she vies for votes with Rishi Sunak in their battle to win the Conservative Party leadership election and succeed Boris Johnson.

European Union rules "hinder" British businesses, Ms Truss said in a statement late on Friday (July 22), as she promised to set a sunset deadline on every piece of EU-derived regulation. That includes scrapping the Solvency II rules governing insurers that critics say are too onerous, curtailing their ability to invest in long-term assets such as infrastructure.

The Foreign Secretary's promise matches one made last week by Mr Sunak, who wrote in the Telegraph that he'd task a new Brexit delivery department with reviewing the remaining 2,400 EU laws on the British statute book with a view to scrapping or reforming them all by the next general election, due in January 2025 at the latest.

Ms Truss is also setting her sights on potential changes at the Bank of England. In an interview with the Telegraph published late on Friday she said some inflation forecasts have been wrong, adding that she would look at best practices from other central banks, and wanted to be sure there was sufficient focus on inflation and money supply.

"I believe it is right that inflation will come down because inflation was caused by a global supply shock. But it was exacerbated by monetary policy," she told the Telegraph. "What I have said is in the future I'm going to look at the Bank of England's mandate."

Brexit is shaping up to be a key battleground in the race to become the next prime minister. While Ms Truss campaigned for remain in the 2016 referendum, she's embraced the divorce with the zeal of the convert and burnished her credentials by introducing a bill designed to scrap large parts of the Brexit deal governing Northern Ireland. That helped secure the backing of the European Research Group of Brexit-backing Conservative MPs.

That Ms Truss is more trusted within the Tories to deliver on Brexit is frustrating for Mr Sunak, who campaigned and voted for Britain to leave the bloc. The former chancellor on Saturday will turn to another crisis facing Mr Johnson's successor: the backlogs in the National Health Service that have left 6.6 million people waiting for cancer screenings, surgery and consultations.

He will announce projected plans on his first day in office to create a task force focused on reducing waiting times, aiming to get the number of people waiting for appointments falling by next year and one-year waits eliminated by September 2024.

In an interview with the Times, which has declared that Mr Sunak is "the right and responsible choice", he identified five national crises and pledged to put the country on an emergency footing on the first day of his premiership.

Ms Truss too is focused on the NHS. She will keep Mr Johnson's £36 billion (S$60 million) in additional funding for the NHS and social care, even while reversing the instrument for raising the money - the 1.25 per cent increase in National Insurance which kicked in this April, according to the Telegraph.

The money will initially go to the NHS but Truss is resolute that it should then go into social care to help relieve the pressure on the health service, the Telegraph reported.

Mr Sunak and Ms Truss now face six weeks of hustings around the country to win over the votes of the about 175,000 Tory Party members who will choose between them. The new prime minister will be elected on Sept 5.

Tensions between Britain and the EU over Brexit escalated on Friday after the bloc launched four more infringement proceedings against Britain, claiming the government has failed to comply with customs and value added tax rules it signed up to.

Ms Truss' Bill to override parts of the agreement was approved by the House of Commons without amendments earlier this week, and now heads to the House of Lords for debate in the fall.

How to manage the tricky relationship with the EU - and whether to resume Brexit negotiations - will be a significant test for Mr Johnson's successor. On Thursday, the Treasury said in a statement that the cost of the UK's divorce bill had jumped to £42.5 billion from a previous estimate of £35 billion to £39 billion.

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