Holyrood won’t approve Brexit bills until ‘broken’ devolution system is fixed - Mike Russell

Mike Russell said Holyrood will no longer approve Brexit Bills following a power grab from Westminster
Mike Russell said Holyrood will no longer approve Brexit Bills following a power grab from Westminster
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Scotland’s Brexit Minister, Mike Russell, has said that Holyrood will not consent on any other Brexit bills until the ‘broken’ devolution system is fixed.

Echoing comments made by the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, Mike Russell said the Scottish Government no longer trusted Westminster following a breakdown in relations over Brexit.

He criticised the handling of the EU Withdrawal Bill saying that he couldn’t “conceive of circumstances” where MSPs would vote to give approval for further legislation related to leaving the EU stating that MSPs simply no longer trusted the system.

The SNP have branded the UK Government’s decision to recorperate powers from the EU such as trade, agriculture and fisheries as a power grab.

The aspects of devolution affected in the EU Withdrawal Bill were approved in a 19 minute debate last week, with no Scottish MP speaking, despite the Scottish Parliament voting against granting formal consent for the Bill.

According to the SNP, this directly contradicts the Sewel Convention.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon says Brexit negotiations have ‘eroded’ trust in Westminster

Under said convention, Westminster does not usually legislate on devolved matters without approval from Holyrood.

The row between the Scottish and UK governments escalated when the First Minister and other senior SNP figures said Scottish ministers intended to play hard ball on Brexit laws in devolved areas.

First Minister Nicola Surgeon said the convention had been “ripped up”, while Mr Russell told MSPs earlier this week that “urgent discussions” must now take place with Westminster over the issue.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Russell said: “We are absolutely clear that the way that devolution operates and the structures of devolution have failed, and they failed because the UK Government is refusing to operate them.

READ MORE: Brexit ‘power grab’ row: What could happen next?

“For example, on the Sewel Convention, we need to have the interpretation of that written down in statute and made legally binding, because what we’ve presently got is a situation where the UK Government makes the rules and then breaks them themselves, and there are no sanctions.

“The ball is very much in their court. We have said there are things we cannot now do because they have broken the system.

“They need to look at that and they need to work constructively with us.”