Blog: UK Government asked to delay next year’s ‘bonfire’ of Brexit laws until 2026 – HeraldScotland

The Constitution and External Affairs minister has already recommended MSPs refuse to give legislative consent to the Retained EU Law Bill, but in a new letter, he tells Business Secretary Grant Shapps to either ditch the legislation or make some significant amends. 

The plan to scrap at least 3,800 laws carried over from the UK’s 47-year membership of the EU has proved controversial.

The UK Government’s self-imposed sunset clause means that ministers have until the end of next year to go through all the European legislation on the statute books and revise, replace or reject. 

The scale of the task has sparked fears that a number of laws in key areas could end up being ditched entirely. 

In his letter, Mr Robertson says the Scottish Government’s view is that the legislation “should be withdrawn completely,” but with that increasingly unlikely he has sent Mr Shapps some “alternative amendments.”

He calls for the automatic sunsetting of the EU legislation to either be removed entirely or “dis-applied in areas which are within devolved competence.” 

Alternatively, he suggests the government could “move it to a later date and enable the Scottish Ministers to extend it.”

He said: “The sunset date should be sufficiently far away as to enable people, businesses and regulators sufficient time to prepare. 

“The currently proposed sunset date will put pressure on governments and parliaments across the UK to undertake a massive exercise in assessment, modification, preservation or restatement of 47 years of accumulated retained EU law at a time when focus should be on other matters. 

“The proposed amendment would modify the sunset date in clause 1 to the end of 2026 with the possibility of extending it to the end of 2029.”

The likelihood of the UK government agreeing to Mr Robertson’s timetable is slim. When asked about it last week, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said the Bill was progressing through parliament as planned. 

Any attempt to change it could spark a revolt amongst Rishi Sunak’s backbenchers. Earlier this week, Jacob Rees-Mogg – who introduced the Bill – said the legislation would “fulfil the referendum promise to take back control.” 

Writing in the Telegraph, he warned Mr Sunak that it was “an essential completion of Brexit without which we would be an EU fellow traveller.”

In his letter, Mr Robertson also said that he was “concerned that the Bill confers powers on UK Ministers in devolved areas without requiring the consent of the Scottish Ministers for the exercise of those powers.”

“Under the Scotland Act 1998, enacted after the approval of devolution by the people of Scotland in the referendum of 1996, it is Scottish Ministers rather than UK Ministers who have ministerial responsibility for the law in devolved areas. 

“Their decisions are scrutinised by the Scottish Parliament. It is therefore vital to ensure democratic oversight and good governance that delegated powers cannot be exercised in devolved areas by UK Ministers without the agreement of the Scottish Ministers who are accountable to the Scottish Parliament.”

He said the Scottish Government’s proposed amendment would mean UK Ministers “could exercise powers under the Bill in devolved areas only if they have first received the consent of the Scottish Ministers.”

BEIS has been approached for comment.

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