UK Government expected to u-turn on bonfire of EU law 'as soon as tomorrow'

Ministers in Westminster are expected to u-turn on a planned ‘bonfire’ of EU laws soon, the SNP’s Europe secretary has said.
Minister for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Angus Robertson gave a statement to parliament on Tuesday.Minister for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Angus Robertson gave a statement to parliament on Tuesday.
Minister for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Angus Robertson gave a statement to parliament on Tuesday.

Angus Robertson told MSPs he expected a “u-turn” from the UK Government imminently in what he described as a “fast-moving situation”.

The EU Retained Law bill had included provisions which would have seen around 4,000 EU laws scrapped by the end of the year, sparking concern from the Scottish Government about the “unworkable and unacceptable way to deal with legislation that is so important”.

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However, in late April newspapers reported that business secretary Kemi Badenoch had told Brexiteer MPs in Westminster that the government was scaling back the plans.

Instead it will aim to remove around 800 statutes and regulations rather than the 3,700 initially lined up for disposal by December.

This could have seen laws covering compensation for flights, aspects of employment law, environmental standards and others binned before the end of the year.

Mr Robertson said the Scottish Government believed there was a “fast-moving situation” in Whitehall with the UK Government “performing a u-turn as we speak on that bill which would be hugely welcome”.

He added: “I have to say, just for the record at this stage, has there been any consultation with the Scottish Government on this, no there hasn't. Has there been any consent issued by the Scottish Parliament on this, no there has not. Do we know what the territorial extent of the bill in its new terms might be, no we don't know that either.

"If we are going to see a UK government u-turn on the EU Retained Law bill which was literally throwing the baby out with the bathwater and seeing if we could save different bits of EU law, if they are now going to change that into a system where they will legislate to get rid of things, that is certainly a much better way of doing things and we'll work with the UK Government as soon as we have details from them."

The external affairs secretary went on to say that he hoped the potential shift in approach would “signal a change” in how the UK Government would approach EU law.

Mr Robertson was speaking following a parliamentary statement on keeping Scotland aligned with the EU, a key priority of the SNP following Brexit.

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He added: “The UK Government is going to put the horse before the cart to be honest which is to seek to get rid of laws that are named rather than getting rid of everything and having to do it the other way round.

"If that’s the way that things are going to proceed I think that is a lot more workable, it’s something that the Scottish Government called for the UK Government to do before it drove a coach and horses through the Sewel Convention again.

"Hopefully common sense can prevail and the UK Government does indeed go through the u-turn on this which would be hugely welcome.”

A UK government spokesperson said: “We remain committed to ensuring the Retained EU Law (REUL) Bill receives Royal Assent and that the supremacy of EU law ends with unnecessary and burdensome EU laws removed by the end of this year.

“Once passed, the Bill will enable the country to further seize the opportunities of Brexit by ensuring regulations fit the needs of the UK, helping to grow our economy and drive innovation.”

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