RISHI Sunak has ditched a key promise made during his leadership campaign to complete a post-Brexit “bonfire” of remaining EU-era laws by the end of the year.

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch announced on Wednesday around 600 laws would be revoked under their planned legislation rather than the 4,000 pledged, claiming it is “about more than a race to a deadline”.

Scotland’s Constitution Secretary welcomed the move, but warned vital protections are still under threat from the UK Government’s “deregulatory race to the bottom agenda” and called for the legislation to be withdrawn completely.

The Scottish Government published a report in January outlining the risks it believes the Retained EU Law Bill poses, ranging from the impact on workers' rights - such as the 48-hour week and minimum rest periods - to environmental laws. 

It also highlighted concerns about undermining of devolution, with UK ministers able to choose to revoke legislation in devolved areas without the consent of the Scottish Parliament or Welsh Senedd. 

On Wednesday Badenoch said there are “risks of legal uncertainty” by automatically scrapping the copied-over laws by the end of the year in a sunset clause in the Retained EU Law Bill.

READ MORE: Trade unionists call for campaign against EU law bonfire plot

In a written statement to MPs, she said ministers will amend the bill making its way through parliament to replace the current sunset with a list of 600 EU laws to be revoked by the end of the year.

“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.

She 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.

The National:

It had been estimated that around 3,700 laws would need ditching but governmental departments are understood to have now identified around 4,800 retained laws.

READ MORE: What is the Retained EU Law Bill that MSPs want scrapped?

Badenoch said around 1,000 had been scrapped already and sought to defend the move in an article for the Daily Telegraph, writing: “We will not abolish any law for the sake of it.

“Getting rid of EU law in the UK should be about more than a race to a deadline.”


Scotland’s Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson said: “While we welcome the news that the UK Government will not enforce an unworkable end-of-the-year deadline to revoke all remaining EU laws, vital protections are 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.

“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.”