UK Government rejects Nicola Sturgeon’s Brexit block claims

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Deputy First Minister John Swinney. Picture: PA

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Deputy First Minister John Swinney. Picture: PA

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The prospect of a Holyrood bid to block Brexit has been rejected by the UK Government.

Nicola Sturgeon has warned she is ready to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to thwart UK legislation to leave the EU and won allies in political leaders at the Stormont Assembly in Northern

The issue you’re talking about is whether there would require to be a legislative consent motion, or motions in the Scottish Parliament for the legislation that extricates the UK from the European Union. Looking at it from a logical perspective I find it hard to believe that there wouldn’t be that requirement, I suspect the UK Government will take a very different view on that and we’ll have to see where that discussion ends up.”

Nicola Sturgeon

Ireland.

The First Minister has already said she may call a second Scottish independence referendum as new weekend polling shows a surge in support for a Yes vote. She is also seeking talks with EU leaders about the possibility of Scotland remaining a member even if the UK leaves. In Scotland 62 per cent of people voted to stay in the European Union (EU), a situation in stark contrast with the result of the UK-wide vote, which saw 52 per cent opt to leave.

But the SNP leader also believes that the consent of the Scottish Parliament would be needed to repeal the application of EU law in Scotland. Constitutional experts say if this is withheld, it would throw the whole Brexit process into doubt.

The issue is whether there would have to be a legislative consent motion (LCM), which is usually needed when Westminster tries to pass laws in areas which are under the control the Scottish Parliament. In this case, it is believed the legislation to extricate

the UK from the European Union would need Holyrood’s consent to extinguish the application of EU law in Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Looking at it from a logical perspective I find it hard to believe that there wouldn’t be that requirement – I suspect the UK Government will take a very different view on that and we’ll have to see where that discussion ends up.”

The Scottish Government has previously sought to block aspects of the controversial UK Trade Union bill on this basis, but was thwarted when Holyrood’s Presiding Officer ruled against ministers.

Asked whether she would ask the Scottish Parliament to reject an LCM on leaving the EU, Ms Sturgeon said: “Of course. If the Scottish Parliament was judging on the basis of what’s right for Scotland then the option of saying we’re not going to vote for something that’s against Scotland’s interests – of course that’s going to be on the table.”

She added: “My job as first Minister, the Scottish Parliament’s job is to judge these things on the basis of what’s in the interests of the people of Scotland.”

Asked if she could understand the “fury” this would lead to in England and Wales which voted for Brexit, Ms Sturgeon said: “I can, but it’s perhaps similar to the fury of many people in Scotland right now as we face the prospect of being taken out of Europe against our will.”

Ms Sturgeon won an ally in SDLP leader Colum Eastwood at Stormont.

“We have been studying this for the last number of days,” he said. “We believe the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Scottish Parliament have the opportunity to say no.”

But Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers made it clear yesterday that Westminster held the ultimate authority in regard to enacting Brexit.

“Ultimately it is parliament’s decision whether we repeal the 1972 European Communities Act or whether we don’t,” she said.

And Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson also rejected Ms Sturgeon’s claims.

Ms Davidson said: “I’m not a constitutaional lawyer, but I have however taken advice from one of my own team who is. The advice that I’ve taken suggests that this actually is not within the power of Holyrood. There will be a statement by the First Minister on Tuesday within the Parliament and I look forward to her clarifying what, if any, legal advice she has taken to this effect.”

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