We wrote to the latest UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 8 November, after lodging our legislative consent memorandum, which recommends that the Scottish Parliament withhold consent for the bill. The letter clearly reiterates our significant fundamental and profound concerns regarding the bill, which were explained to the previous secretary of state. The legislation puts at risk the high and vital standards that people in Scotland have rightly come to expect from EU membership. It represents a further undermining of devolution and is being pursued with reckless speed.
Last week, a legal expert who was giving evidence to the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee, said that although the UK Government’s confusing dashboard of retained EU law currently contains more than 1,400 pieces of legislation, this sweeping bill could affect as many as 5,000 laws, thereby leaving dangerous gaps in the statute books. Can the minister explain how the Scottish Government is preparing to alleviate the damage that could be done by Westminster’s reckless Brexit obsession?
I thank Colin Beattie for raising an important and existential question. The only way to alleviate the bill’s damage to Scotland is for it to be withdrawn in its entirety. Should the bill continue its progress, I urge the UK Government to accept amendments, which we tabled on Tuesday, that would lessen its detrimental impact.
However, we need to be clear: the fact that the bill has been introduced at all demonstrates the cost to Scotland of a Westminster Government that people here did not vote for. It is intent on imposing a disastrous Brexit ideology that threatens the standards and protections that we enjoyed as a member of the European Union. We need to be shot of the bill in order to ensure that we can set our own course by being an independent country.