Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said the UK’s Brexit Bill is a “power grab” on the authority of the Scottish Parliament and branded this “unacceptable” on a visit to Glasgow today.
Scottish leader Richard Leonard also confirmed that Labour MSPs will vote against the Brexit Bill in its current form when it comes before Holyrood next week, meaning the Scottish Parliament is likely to withhold legislative consent for the Bill. It is already opposed by the Scottish Government.
Mr Corbyn also rejected recent claims from Nationalist MSP Mhairi Black that he that he is a secret supporter of Scottish independence.
The UK party leader’s backing for Scottish Labour over the UK Withdrawal mey be seen as a snub for the Welsh Labour Government, which had similar “power grab”” concerns, but has now backed a compromise deal rejected by the Scottish Government.
Mr Corbyn said he has been in talks with Mr Leonard and Shadow Scottish Secretary on the issue of the EU Withdrawal Bill today.
He added: “I’m very happy that the Scottish Labour party will be voting against the legislative consent proposal next week.
“Quite clearly there is a power grab going on by Whitehall on the EU Withdrawal Bill.
“What they’re doing is taking powers from Brussels, which ought to go to Scotland, Wales and the English regions and instead hoarding them in Whitehall. That’s totally unacceptable to us and we’ve made that very clear.
“We’re a party of devolution therefore devolution sometimes throws up interesting answers.
“That is what devolution is about - people making, their own decisions. As far as I’m concerned there should be the maximum devolution from the EU Withdrawal Bill to Scotland and Wales.”
The concerns centre on on 24 key powers, in areas including farming and fishing, which will go to Westminster when they should rest at Holyrood in line with the devolution settlement. UK ministers say they are needed to ensure the integrity of the UK single market.
Mr Leonard said he was “quite relaxed” about Labour in Scotland taking a different stance from the party in Wales.
“That’s what devolution is about,” he said.
“When the legislative consent motion comes before the Scottish Parliament next Tuesday, as things stand at the moment here today, we will almost certainly vote against a consent motion in the Scottish Parliament because we do not believe that the Withdrawal Bill, as amended, sufficiently recognises devolution as set out in the Scotland Act 1998 and that Reserved Powers model which is a feature and has been a feature of the Scottish Parliament since it’s very inception.”
Ms Black, the Nationalist backbench MP, said in a recent interview that Mr Corbyn had “sold his soul” over independence and was secretly in favour of it.
But Mr Corbyn isad today: “I’ve never supported Scottish independence.
“What I want is to lead a UK Labour Government - I want to see a Labour Government in Scotland. As a socialist, I want to improve living standards and reduce inequalities across the country.
“And I invite anyone who wants to live in a society that’s more democratic, more open and binding everybody rather than giving free market capitalism the altar that it has at the moment under this Tory Government, to join Labour in our determination to create a society that really does work for the many not the few.”