No breakthrough in Holyrood-Westminster Brexit deadlock

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants a "sunset clause" in UK Brexit Bill
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants a "sunset clause" in UK Brexit Bill
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The constitutional stand-off between Holyrood and Westminster over Brexit is unlikely to see an 11th hour breakthrough as MSPs this week prepare to pass a new post-EU legal framework for Scotland.

A spokesman for First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said no "substantive" progress had been made to end the deadlock.

The EU Continuity Bill will complete its emergency passage through the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday amid concerns that the current Westminster Brexit Bill for the whole of the UK is a "power grab" on Scotland's devolved powers.

Read more: Time running out in Brexit stand-off between Holyrood and Westminster
The Holyrood Bill is being pushed through as emergency legislation by the SNP with support of opposition parties, other than the Tories. But Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh has warned it is outwith the competence of the Scottish Parliament. Scotland's Lord Advocate James Wolffe and other senior legal figures have taken the opposite view and claimed that Scotland can legislate on this issue.

The legal dispute over the Scottish Parliament's right to legislate on Brexit is likely to mean that the dispute between the two Governments ends up in the UK Supreme Court with judges left to decide whether Holyrood or Westminster is in control.

Read more: New constitutional stand-off as SNP pushes ahead with Brexit bill
Asked about the EU Continuity Bill's progress, Ms Sturgeon's spokesman said: "The expectation is that it will go ahead, there's nothing to suggest otherwise."

He admitted that the prospect of the stand-off being resolved in court was now possible, but added: "I wouldn't assume it's a given."

Ms Sturgeon had suggested that inserting a "sunset clause" in the UK legislation could allow Scottish ministers to support it.

But the spokesman said there had been "nothing substantive" in terms of a response from UK ministers on this, although officials were still in discussion.

The Scottish Government has indicated that it remains keen to reach an agreement with UK ministers on the EU Withdrawal Bill at the Commons which "respects" the devolution settlement, with the Welsh Government also concerned about the "power grab."

But UK ministers insist common frameworks are needed in some devolved areas like farming and fishing to protect the UK internal market.