David Mundell says SNP blocked compromise and rejects resignation call

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A last-ditch cross-party bid to resolve the row over post-Brexit devolution was rejected by the Scottish Government, David Mundell has claimed.

The Scottish Secretary told MPs that a proposal, drawn up by former civil servant Jim Gallagher and ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown, was put to the SNP’s Brexit minister Michael Russell by the UK Government, but was dismissed without discussion.
Labour’s plan would have seen Westminster control of new devolved powers returning from Brussels limited to areas affecting the UK’s international obligations.

Mr Mundell was addressing MPs for the first time since debate on the devolution clauses of the EU Withdrawal Bill were squeezed to just 15 minutes in the House of Commons, provoking an angry walkout by SNP MPs in the middle of PMQs.

READ MORE: SNP prepares for 'guerilla' war on Brexit after MPs' walkout

“They were not for moving, they were not for compromising, they were not for changing,” he said of the UK government’s compromise approach to the SNP.

The Scottish Secretary resisted demands for his resignation from the SNP and Labour. "The Secretary of State has failed to protect devolution, failed to protect the Scottish Parliament, failed to protect Scottish interests,” SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, who was suspended from the Commons on Wednesday, told MPs.

"Having plunged Scotland into constitutional crisis, will he finally do the right thing if he has any dignity, if he has any self-respect, and resign and do it now?"

Mr Mundell, in his reply, said: "After yesterday I am not taking any lessons from (Mr Blackford) on dignity."

The Cabinet minister also said "chanting" from the SNP in line with Mr Blackford's speech was a sign of their "guerrilla tactics".

Mr Mundell said he respected Mr Blackford's opposition to Brexit, but added: "He is not entitled firstly to ignore the views of over a million people in Scotland who voted for Brexit, who the SNP want to airbrush out of history.

"And he's not entitled to ignore the result of the referendum across the United Kingdom as a whole. Therefore it's incumbent on this Government to deliver Brexit and that is what we will do."

Mr Mundell also told MPs he was concerned at reports that Mr Russell was considering pulling the Scottish Government out of technical talks on how joint powers will be managed after Brexit.

READ MORE: Labour unveils new plan to end Holyrood 'power grab' deadlock