Brexit: Westminster not '˜telling the truth', says Mike Russell

Holyrood's Brexit Minister Mike Russell is to give a statement to MSPs in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling that the UK Government is 'not legally compelled' to consult the three devolved administrations.

Scotland's Brexit minister Mike Russell says Westminster has 'not been telling the truth'. Picture: Contributed
Scotland's Brexit minister Mike Russell says Westminster has 'not been telling the truth'. Picture: Contributed

Mr Russell will address the Scottish Parliament on the implications of the judgment from the UK’s highest court.

While the Supreme Court decided Theresa May must give MPs a vote before triggering Article 50, the 11 judges unanimously ruled this does not need to to apply in the devolved assemblies in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was left “obviously disappointed” with this and insisted it was ‘’becoming clearer by the day that Scotland’s voice is simply not being heard or listened to within the UK’’.

The SNP leader has already declared she will press ahead with a vote in Holyrood on triggering Article 50, saying the Scottish Government would bring forward a legislative consent motion.

And she argued claims from pro-UK politicians that Scotland is an “equal partner” in the Union had been “exposed as nothing more than empty rhetoric”.

The Scotland Act of 2016, introduced after voters opted to stay in the UK in 2014, enshrined in legislation the Sewel Convention - which states Westminster will normally only legislate on devolved matters with the express agreement of MSPs.

In the ruling, Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger stated that “relations with the EU are a matter for the UK Government”.

With Scotland having voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum, the First Minister had already warned plans to take the UK out of the single market ‘’undoubtedly’’ makes a second referendum on Scottish independence more likely.

She said the Supreme Court judgment raised “fundamental issues above and beyond that of EU membership”, questioning: “Is Scotland content for our future to be dictated by an increasingly right-wing Westminster government with just one MP here - or is it better that we take our future into our own hands?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It is becoming ever clearer that this is a choice that Scotland must make.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell dismissed the First Minister’s comments, saying “Scotland’s voice is being heard clearly throughout the whole process”.

Mr Mundell demanded: “We want the SNP to take the uncertainty of a second referendum off the table and come together with us as we move forward - because that is how we will get the best possible deal for Scotland and the whole of the UK as we leave the EU.”

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Russell said negotiations with the UK Government over Scotland’s future were “getting harder by the day”.

Assertions that the UK and Scotland were equal partners in the union had been “blown out of the water”, he said.

He added that the position had worsened following the court ruling.

“It has got a little worse, because the UK Government has asserted constantly that they put the Sewel Convention into legislation, and that this was a guarantee of consultation, and now we consider, to be blunt with you, they weren’t telling the truth,” he said.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“And it is very difficult to negotiate with people who aren’t telling you the truth.”

Referring to options laid out by the Scottish Government, including a differentiated deal which could see Scotland remain in the single market even if the rest of the UK leaves it, Mr Russell said: “There are still options on the table. There is still the opportunity for the UK Government to negotiate seriously.

“It is alas that Government that’s closing down those options.”