THE Tories have been accused of another power-grab and "riding roughshod" through the devolution settlement following the publication of the UK Government's so-called "Brexit Freedoms" bill.

The Retained EU Law (Reform and Revocation) Bill aims to repeal all EU regulations in the UK, including those protecting safe limits on working hours and parental leave, and standards on water quality and baby food.

The UK Government wants to do this by December 31, 2023, which the SNP say risks a vital law that protects many rights and standards disappearing overnight.

It also gives the Scottish Parliament just one year to legislate to protect 47 years' worth of EU regulations, and the bill will allow UK Government ministers to act in policy areas that are devolved without the consent of the Scottish Government, directly contradicting devolution and the Sewel Convention.

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has additionally warned the bill in its current form poses a "significant risk" to food safety and standards, as it would result in the removal of consumer protections relating to food that have existed in Scotland and the rest of the UK for “many years”.

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Currently, retained EU law requires businesses to provide clear information on their food, as well as labels for allergens.

The SNP’s Cabinet Office spokesperson, Brendan O’Hara, said the bill "rides roughshod" over the devolution settlement. 

He said: “Just like the Tories’ Internal Market Bill, the ‘Brexit Freedoms’ Bill is another attempt at a power-grab on Scotland and threatens vital protections, yet Liz Truss and her Cabinet are determined to push it through anyway.

“With the UK Government imposing such a reckless deadline, there is a real risk that laws protecting rights and standards - such as holiday pay, parental leave, and the 48-hour work week, as well as good air and water quality - could simply drop off the statute books overnight.

“It also rides roughshod over the devolution settlement, by giving UK ministers the power to act within devolved areas without consent from the Scottish Government.

“Not only has the Tories’ hard Brexit taken a sledgehammer to our economy and living standards, but the Westminster government has attempted to use it on multiple occasions now to undermine the Scottish Government and democracy, making clear that their 'union of equals' rhetoric is utterly hollow.

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“Scotland, and our government, has for too long been using time, money and energy to undo or mitigate damaging policies implemented by a Westminster government we didn’t vote for. It’s clear that Scotland must escape the broken Westminster system and gain the full powers of independence.”

The Sewel Convention applies when the UK Parliament wants to legislate on a matter within the devolved competence of the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales or Northern Ireland Assembly. Under the terms of the convention, the UK Parliament will “not normally” do so without the relevant devolved institution having passed a legislative consent motion.

In a letter to senior Tory minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, Scotland's Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson said the bill would result in a “race to the bottom” by scrapping EU regulations.

His letter said: "This bill puts at risk the high standards people in Scotland have rightly come to expect from EU membership. You appear to want to row back 47 years of protections in a rush to impose a deregulated, race-to-the-bottom, society and economy."

He added: "At the time of writing, I have received no legislative consent request from you in relation to the bill."