Holyrood could block Great Repeal Bill over 'power grab'

Nicola Sturgeon could be ready to use the Scottish Parliament to attempt to block the Great Repeal Bill as she warned Brexit will be used to engineer a 'power grab' on Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon during a debate at the Scottish Parliament. Picture: Andy Buchanan/PA Wire
Nicola Sturgeon during a debate at the Scottish Parliament. Picture: Andy Buchanan/PA Wire

The First Minister warned that such a move would be unacceptable she may seek to withhold Holyrood’s consent, with the support of the Greens, for the legislation covering the return of EU powers to the UK after Brexit.

The UK Government today published details of the Great Repeal Bill which transfers the whole of EU law on to the UK statute book as Britain leaves the European Union.

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Brexit Secretary David Davis was unable to clarify whether Holyrood would be required to give its consent to the legislation, but Scottish Secretary David Mundell has previously said this would be the case.

Nicola Sturgeon during a debate at the Scottish Parliament. Picture: Andy Buchanan/PA Wire

“The issue around the great Repeal Bill is about powers currently with the EU, that if they were to be repatriated in areas that are currently wholly devolved - agriculture, fishing, for example - where should those powers go?” Ms Sturgeon told MSPs at Holyrood today.

“Under the current terms of the Scotland Act, those powers should automatically come to this chamber. But nobody in the UK Government - and I discussed this with the Prime Minister on Monday - nobody on the Conservative benches will give that guarantee.

“Which leads me to suspect that what the Tories are actually planning is a power grab on this Parliament. And that will be absolutely unacceptable.”

Scotland’s Brexit minister later warned that the Bill risks undermining the devolution settlement.

Nicola Sturgeon during a debate at the Scottish Parliament. Picture: Andy Buchanan/PA Wire

“In all other areas where powers already belong to the Scottish Parliament the white paper continues to threaten that in areas such as agriculture, fisheries and the environment, powers will be taken by the UK Government after Brexit,” Mr Russell said.

“For the UK government to seek to impose legislative frameworks on these areas would be to take the unprecedented step of extending its powers over Scotland and must not take place. The Scottish Parliament’s competences must not be diminished as a result of Brexit.”

A spokesman for Ms Sturgeon said that if any controls over areas like farming and fishing, which currently reside with the EU don’t come straight to Scotland after Brexit, then Nationalist MSPs would seek to block it.

“We wouldn’t in those circumstances be giving legislative consent,” a spokesman for Ms Sturgeon said.

“We’re not in the business of powers being stripped away from the Parliament.”