THE SCOTTISH Government has welcomed No 10's decision to ditch its planned Brexit “bonfire" of EU laws.

However, they warned that despite the Prime Minister's "humiliating climb down" some vital protections were “still under threat from a deregulatory race to the bottom agenda."

Ministers had promised to go through at least 4,800 retained EU laws - carried over from the UK’s 47-year membership of the bloc - by the end of the year, and either revise them, replace them or revoke them. 

The scale of the task meant there were fears that a number of regulations in key areas could have ended up being lost entirely purely because there would not have been enough time for officials to properly consider the legislation. 


Government data shows that only 906 EU laws have been dealt with so far, and of them just 245 of those have been repealed.

While charities and businesses who have long campaigned against the legislation welcomed its scrapping, Jacob Rees-Mogg who introduced Bill when he was still in government accused Mr Sunak of breaking a Tory leadership contest promise to scrap EU red tape within 100 days of becoming Prime Minister. 

In a written statement, Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch told MPs she had amended the legislation so that only around 600 laws will be subject to the end of year sunset clause. 

“We will still fully take back control of our laws and end the supremacy and special status of retained EU law by the end of 2023,” she said.

The minister said a further 500 pieces of retained EU legislation would be revoked by other means, but it was unclear if that will happen by the end of the year.

Ms Badenoch said around 1,000 had been scrapped or altered already, though

“I have listened to the concerns of business of all sizes and have made it a priority to tackle the red tape that holds back UK firms, reduces their competitiveness in global markets and hampers their growth,” Ms Badenoch said.

In a statement to the PA news agency, Mr Rees-Mogg said this was "an admission of administrative failure, an inability of Whitehall to do the necessary work and an incapability of ministers to push this through their own departments."

He added: There is a missed opportunity to deregulate and to make the UK economy more efficient and competitive. This is especially important in an inflationary era as it would have reduced prices. An important economic opportunity has, therefore, been given up.

“Regrettably, ‘the blob’ has triumphed and the Prime Minister has abandoned his promise.”

Scottish Government Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson welcomed the decision, calling the deadline “unworkable.”

However, he warned that some vital protections were “still under threat from a deregulatory race to the bottom agenda with the UK Government continuing to make plans to remove or change EU standards.”

He added: “This amendment by the UK Government does nothing to address the powers in the Bill for UK Ministers to act in areas devolved to Scottish Ministers without our consent or scrutiny by the Scottish Parliament. 

“The Scottish Parliament has made its views clear on the Retained EU Law Bill, having already voted in favour of a motion calling on UK Government to withdraw it. This is the only way to eliminate all of the risks posed by this damaging legislation.”

Jane Gratton from the British Chambers of Commerce, said that firms had been worried about the “headlong rush towards the sudden removal of vast swathes of legislation overnight”.

“It is welcome that Government has listened, and the Bill will no longer apply a blanket sunset clause in this way, with the real risk of unintended but negative consequences,” she said.

The Wildlife Trusts chief executive Craig Bennett warned that ministers will still be able to “revoke important laws at whim”, raising concerns about environmental protections being scrapped.

“We won’t be congratulating the Government for its decision to stop doing something it should never have even thought about in the first place,” he said.

“Ministers should never be given carte blanche to pick and choose which laws should be kept or binned without public consultation or scrutiny – that is fundamentally undemocratic.

“The uncertainty created by the Government over retained EU law has caused huge problems for business, as well as organisations working to protect nature.”

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister Jenny Chapman said: “This is a humiliating U-turn from a weak and divided government with no clue how to grow our economy, protect workers, support business or build a better Britain outside the EU.

“After wasting months of parliamentary time, the Tories have conceded that this universally unpopular Bill will damage the economy, at a time when businesses and families are already struggling with the Tory cost-of-living crisis.”