Brexit: Scottish Parliament set to reject EU Withdrawal Bill

The Scottish Parliament will vote on a motion to reject the EU Withdrawal Bill. Picture: WikICommons
The Scottish Parliament will vote on a motion to reject the EU Withdrawal Bill. Picture: WikICommons
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The Scottish Government is calling on MSPs to “unite to protest the powers of devolution” by refusing to give consent to key Brexit legislation.

The Scottish Parliament is expected to back a motion put forward by Brexit Minister Mike Russell, which states Holyrood “does not consent to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill”.

While the vote will not stop the UK Government from introducing the legislation, it will mean it is pushing ahead against the clear wishes of the devolved Scottish Parliament.

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The vote on Tuesday comes after months of wrangling between Westminster and the devolved administrations about what should happen to powers returning to the UK after Brexit.

After changes were made to the legislation, the Welsh Government dropped its objections.

But ministers in Edinburgh remain steadfast in their opposition, insisting parts of the Bill could result in Holyrood’s powers being curtailed for up to seven years.

Labour, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats have also voiced their concerns about the impact the Bill could have on devolution, with a Holyrood committee last week warning a key part of the legislation “cuts across the devolution settlement”.

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Mr Russell said the Bill could still gain the consent of Scotland if the UK Government removed clause 11 - something the Conservatives at Westminster have repeatedly refused to do.

Speaking ahead of the debate and vote, the Scottish Brexit Minister urged MSPs: “Tomorrow the Scottish Parliament has a powerful opportunity to unite to protect the powers of devolution and make it clear we do not accept the attempt to constrain the powers of the Scottish Parliament as it stands in the current EU Withdrawal Bill.

“This is not some abstract issue - this covers key policy areas such as farming, food and drink, fisheries and protecting the environment.

“I have said time and again it is unacceptable that the legislation gives the UK Government the power to ban the Scottish Parliament from legislating on devolved areas for up to seven years without the Parliament’s consent.

“That is why I must recommend the Scottish Parliament votes against accepting the bill in its current form.”

He added: “There is a clear solution which is, as I have said and as the committee agreed last week, to simply remove clause 11 from the bill.

“I hope the UK Government will make this simple change before the legislation is passed and respect the devolution settlement Scotland voted for.”