Brexit: UK and Scots ministers in EU power grab

Crunch talks between the UK and Scottish governments will open today on the repatriation of powers from the European Union as relations between London and Edinburgh hit a new low over Brexit.
Scottish Brexit Minister Mike Russell. Picture: SWNSScottish Brexit Minister Mike Russell. Picture: SWNS
Scottish Brexit Minister Mike Russell. Picture: SWNS

Scotland’s Brexit minister Michael Russell claimed the foundation of Scottish devolution had been rendered “worthless” after the UK government ruled out giving Holyrood a vote on Brexit.

His comments came ahead of talks in Holyrood today with Scottish Secretary David Mundell and Holyrood finance secretary Derek MacKay about how the powers returning from Brussels will be divided between Edinburgh and London.

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Key powers over fishing and agriculture will come back under British control when the UK leaves the EU.

The Conservative government has said it has an open mind about how the new arrangement will look, insisting its priority is to protect the robustness of the UK economic market.

But the SNP has voiced fears of a “power grab” by UK ministers.

The Supreme Court decided earlier this week that while Prime Minister Theresa May must give MPs a vote before triggering Article 50, the UK government is “not legally compelled” to consult the three devolved administrations.

Mr Russell told MSPs yesterday: “The claims about Scotland being an equal partner are being exposed as empty, diversionary rhetoric by the actual facts.

“Now the very foundations of the devolution settlement that are supposed to protect our interests, such as the statutory embedding of the Sewel Convention, are being shown to be worthless.”

But a UK government spokeswoman said: “The devolution settlement is clear that foreign affairs are reserved to the UK Parliament.

“The well-established Sewel Convention applies only to devolved matters.

“The 59 MPs who represent Scotland in the UK Parliament will scrutinise, debate and vote on the Article 50 Bill.”