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Ministers u-turn on plans for bonfire of 4,000 pieces of EU law inherited after Brexit by the end of the year

The Government is poised to confirm it is abandoning plans to review every law inherited from the EU after Brexit by the end of the year.

The Retained EU Law Bill, which mandates a thorough overhaul of the UK’s regulatory regime, will return to the House of Lords next week.

Peers had threatened to water down the legislation, including by removing the “sunset clause” stating that every law which originated in Brussels would automatically be repealed at the end of this year unless it had been reviewed by ministers.

Kemi Badenoch, the Business and Trade Secretary, has told MPs that she expects only around one fifth of retained EU law will be affected by the bill.

Angus Robertson, the External Affairs Secretary in the Scottish Government, told Holyrood that he expected a “U-turn” as soon as Wednesday.

He said to MSPs on Tuesday: “We believe there’s a fast-moving situation at Westminster with the UK Government performing a U-turn as we speak on that bill, which would be hugely welcome. I understand potentially we may even see a new schedule published in Westminster as soon as tomorrow on the issue.

“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.

“But if we are going to see a UK Government U-turn on the Retained EU 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.”

A UK Government source insisted there was no timetable for setting out any changes to the bill, but i understands that amendments are likely to be laid before the legislation is debated by the Lords from Monday.

Some Brexiteers argue that the bill is necessary to encourage the Civil Service to speed up the work of building a new regulatory system post-Brexit which takes advantages of the freedoms available outside the EU.

But Opposition parties, and many constitutional experts, claim that spending time reviewing 4,000 laws which originated in the EU would be a waste because of the likelihood that most will end up being kept, to avoid creating difficulties for businesses that export to the Continent.

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