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Macron must not beat Brexit Britain in race to rip up red tape - by Annabel Denham for the Telegraph

The days when Britain could boast a lean, light regulatory environment in contrast to its neighbour across the Channel are long gone according to Annabel Denham in a timely article for the Telegraph.

The UK can no longer look down its nose in pity and derision at its near neighbour. France’s re-elected President recognised the problem from the outset and is tackling it head-on, in marked contrast to his counterparts over here:

“Modest though Macron’s efforts at reform may have been, he is at least moving France in the right direction. Meanwhile, policymakers in Britain appear to be taking their economic lessons from Macron’s predecessor: more government spending paid for by higher taxation, more employment regulations, and a raft of top-down initiatives.

It says something of our pusillanimity that while the newly re-elected French President is driving through radical reforms to employment law, our government is focused on enshrining a right to work from home, and worrying about regulating who can sit on the board of a British company.”

The problems have been proliferating for years - and all under Conservative governments:

“Employing anyone in Britain today brings a vast array of costs - not least given the recent hike in National Insurance Contributions. Pension and maternity obligations have been greatly extended in the period since France appointed Hollande president. Opportunities to sue your employer for a range of ‘discriminations’ have expanded significantly."

The debate, long overdue, coincides with Jacob Rees-Mogg’s commitment cull the quangos. But we have heard all this before:

"Moving to a “one in, one out” approach, let alone David Cameron’s plans for “one in, two out,” rule now seems unlikely. The government has spent the past six years talking the talk on deregulation, but is singularly failing to walk the walk now the opportunity has arrived.”

And the UK government cannot any longer blame it on the EU:

“Even Brexit, sold to many as an opportunity to break free from the straitjacket of regulation, seems unlikely to be a spur for serious deregulation.

The 108-page ‘Opportunities of Brexit’ document published in January didn’t even mention employment law. The Taskforce for Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform is not even supposed to discuss it.”

The problem, fundamentally, is political:

“With the notable exception of stringent Covid controls, deregulation is typically unpopular. Deregulation of housing is unpopular. Deregulation of employment is unpopular.

As the Cato Institute neatly put it: “in economics, deregulation is actually code for ‘undercut the rich guys and their lobbyists by opening the door to new competition’”. In politics, vested interests wield influence at the expense of the public.

And the government isn’t interested in cracking this nut. There is no pro-market reformist agenda on any issue. Given France’s starting point, the country is a long way from becoming a free market paradise.”

Unless the government tackles the issue of de-regulation head-on, matters will only get worse. It is a timely article as our research after we published the article about Jacob Rees-Mogg's new role showed that "Departments, agencies and public bodies" (otherwise known as quangos) total 578.

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Article for the Telegraph by Annabel Denham - Macron must not beat Brexit Britain in race
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French President Emmanuel Macron after winning the second round of the French presidential elections CREDIT: Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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