POLITICS

Ken Clarke Dismisses 'Myth' That EU To Blame For Business Red Tape

28/01/2014 12:04 GMT | Updated 28/01/2014 12:59 GMT
Peter Macdiarmid via Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 30: Justice Secretary Ken Clarke arrives at The Royal Courts of Justice give evidence to The Leveson Inquiry on May 30, 2012 in London, England. This phase of the inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the press in the United Kingdom is looking at the relationship between the press and politicians. The inquiry, which may take a year or more to complete, comes in the wake of the phone hacking scandal that saw the closure of The News of The World newspaper in 2011. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Ken Clarke has blamed the floods of red tape affecting British business on government ministers, dismissing as a "myth" the idea that they have no control over European rules and regulations.

The former Tory chancellor said he could "not think of one" EU regulation passed into UK law that had not been agreed by ministers.

The Europhile minister said: "We sit on the Council of Ministers, so when European legislation comes along, we negotiate and can object and can try to block it.

"It is very hard to find an EU regulation that has been forced on an unwilling British minister who voted against it.”

Clarke, who serves in cabinet as minister without portfolio, said: “The idea that heroic British ministers sit here trying to stem the flow [of EU rules] is a myth."

“We have had in the past Labour governments that are very regulatory. We have a long tradition of this and this Government has finally brought this to an end.”

Clarke's comments will pile pressure on the David Cameron to take a firmer stance on cutting red tape, with the former minister's intervention coinciding with the government's latest update of its "Red Tape Challenge".

Speaking at the Federation of Small Business' conference on Monday, Cameron said that over 3,000 regulations would be dropped or changed by 2015 and that his government would be the first to end office with less regulation on the statute books than when it came to power.

This comes after new reports found that EU regulation costs the UK £27.4 billion a year and that the cost of staying in the EU outweighs its benefits.