Nicola Sturgeon says Brexit negotiations have ‘eroded’ trust in Westminster

The row between the Scottish and UK governments escalated when the First Minister and other senior SNP figures yesterday said Scottish ministers intended to play hard ball on Brexit laws in devolved areas. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
The row between the Scottish and UK governments escalated when the First Minister and other senior SNP figures yesterday said Scottish ministers intended to play hard ball on Brexit laws in devolved areas. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
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Nicola Sturgeon has declared trust in Westminster has been “eroded” by European Union withdrawal negotiations as she indicated Holyrood would refuse consent to further Brexit legislation.

The row between the Scottish and UK governments escalated when the First Minister and other senior SNP figures yesterday said Scottish ministers intended to play hard ball on Brexit laws in devolved areas.

Speaking at the British Irish Council in Guernsey, Ms Sturgeon said: “Our experience in recent weeks and months around the Withdrawal Bill discussions have put a strain on that trust and I think inevitably have eroded it.”

Ms Sturgeon said “respect and consent” must be the basis of working relations.

READ MORE: Brexit ‘power grab’ row: What could happen next?

Her comments came as senior colleague, Brexit minister Michael Russell, warned Holyrood would not give its consent to any further Brexit legislation until the “broken” devolution system had been properly fixed.

Mr Russell said he “couldn’t conceive of circumstances” where MSPs would vote to give approval for further legislation related to leaving the EU such as trade, agriculture and fisheries.

The Brexit minister said the Sewel Convention, which states that Westminster does “not normally” legislate on devolved matters without Holyrood consent, should be made legally binding.

“What we’ve presently got is a situation where the UK government makes the rules and then breaks them themselves, and there are no sanctions,” he said.

With today marking the second anniversary of the Brexit vote, Mr Russell also said jobs and living standards across Scotland and the UK risked being “sacrificed because of an extreme Brexit, which is pushed through because of the bitter Tory civil war that now leaves the whole UK on the brink of a catastrophic no-deal outcome”.

David Lidington, de facto deputy prime minister, said there had been a “real” ­disagreement over the Brexit process.

He said: “I’m not going to hide at all from the fact the UK and Scottish governments have had a serious disagreement over the EU (Withdrawal Bill).”

READ MORE: Lord Sewel: Brexit legislation is ‘not a power grab’

But he said he believed the Sewel Convention, which means Westminster does not normally legislate on devolved matters without Holyrood’s approval, had been “upheld in full”.

Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said: “Like everything the SNP does, this is a calculated tactic, which it thinks will bring independence closer.

“The nationalists don’t care about making Brexit work for Scotland or indeed the well­being of devolution.

“They simply want to break up Britain and this is the latest ploy in that process.

“If anyone is proving untrustworthy, it’s the SNP government.”

A UK government spokesperson said: “The EU (Withdrawal) Bill is about ensuring that the whole of the United Kingdom has a functioning statute book on exit day.”