THE bonfire of legislation that is the Retained EU Law Bill has now shrunk to a sputtering campfire.

The Government’s U-turn on sunsetting all EU-derived legislation by the end of this year is welcome but make no mistake, this is still a bad piece of legislation which is deeply unnecessary.

The genesis of this bill came from the mind of ultra-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg in his final days in government. It sought to sacrifice any and all EU-derived legislation on the high altar of Brexit. Freed from the shackles of European bureaucracy, Britannia would finally be unleashed – or so the fallible logic went.

What the Tories had not quite realized was the extent to which EU legislation shapes and protects the lives of all of us in these islands. The working time directive which guarantees a limit to how many hours an employer can compel you to work, as well as guaranteeing paid holidays, comes from the EU.

The standards which ensure our food is safe to eat are largely derived from the EU. Many of the rules and guidelines about how businesses operate originally came from, you guessed it, the EU.

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Not that this stopped the Tories pushing on with their ideological crusade. In January, the bill was cheered to the rafters by Brexiteers as it passed in the Commons.

Then reality hit.

As the unelected House of Lords pored over the legislation in the following weeks and months, some in government realised what we in the SNP had been warning about for months. That if they did this damn silly thing in this damn silly way, then it would be utterly destructive – not only to the economy but to people’s livelihoods.

Belatedly, the Government changed course a couple of weeks ago. Of course, it wasn’t of their own volition that they reported the changes to all parliamentarians. Indeed, they had to be dragged to the chamber with an urgent question raised by MPs about the latest announcement.

Having finally listened to some semblance of reason, the Tories announced that the number of laws being scrapped was to be dramatically reduced from approximately 4800 (even now, they still don’t know what the true figure would have been) to around 600. Moreover, it would end the sunset clause of revoking EU-derived legislation by the end of this year.

These steps are welcome to be sure. Bad legislation is better than horrific legislation – yet the bill as it stands remains a bad piece of lawmaking. It is the inevitable consequence of when government is hijacked by ideologues rather than pragmatists pursuing sensible solutions to the challenges society is facing. That we have to spend so much time cleaning up this mess instead of delivering real, practical solutions to the cost of living crisis just about sums up the tenure of successive UK governments.

What’s clear from the above is that the UK Government has belatedly realised the administrative consequences of ludicrous deadlines set in the heat of a Tory red-meat political haze.

What won’t change is the fact that if the Government gets its way with this legislation, Westminster will still be able to overrule Holyrood on retained EU law.

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As the adage goes, power devolved is power retained.

So as the UK deals with its latest Brexit-induced madness, us Scots have tried to be the sensible folk in the room. Ultimately though, Scotland can only mitigate against the worst excess of UK governments whilst part of the Union.

But there is a solution. With independence, instead of trying to rip up standards and workers’ protections, we can instead work on improving them, helping workers and our businesses thrive together. And by being part of the EU, we will have a say in regulation which becomes the gold standard for governments around the world.

Let Brexiteers try and turn back the clock to the 19th century – we will keep striving to deliver in the 21st and beyond.