Ruth Davidson says powers must return to Scotland in ‘new UK’

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Powers returning from Brussels after Brexit must be as “close to the Scottish people as possible”, Ruth Davidson has said following talks with Prime Minister Theresa May in Downing Street.

The Scottish Conservative leader said she was “frustrated” that Brexit legislation at the heart of “power grab” claims had yet to be fixed, but called for patience as she promised a “new United Kingdom” would emerge from the process.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson during FMQs at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.  Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson during FMQs at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

However, her MPs will face a dilemma when the Withdrawal Bill returns to the House of Commons this evening, with opposition parties forcing a vote on changes to Clause 11, which deals with devolution.

There was anger last week when the UK government admitted it would not amend the clause, which retains 111 powers in devolved areas at Westminster, before the bill moves to the Lords. Scottish Tory MPs will be forced to back the bill as it stands or risk a damaging government defeat.

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Shadow Scottish secretary Lesley Laird said the bill “drives a coach and horses through the devolution settlement” and said Scottish Secretary David Mundell had “broken his promise that this legislation would be fixed”.

“The bill can still be changed before it goes to the House of Lords – Labour’s amendment today can fix these problems,” she said.

Speaking outside Number 10 yesterday, Ms Davidson said talks between the UK and Scottish governments on “joint frameworks” to share control of some of the 111 powers were “making real progress”.

She said: “It’s not just about rewriting a clause, putting the words down, and then MPs and MSPs sticking their hands up to say yes or not to it. This is about what the framework of a new United Kingdom after we leave the EU looks like.

“How is power held? What are these shared frameworks? How are they agreed, rather than imposed? What is the backstop to them? If there is a dispute in future, what is the dispute resolution mechanism? This is all very technical and complicated stuff.

“There are many of us that are frustrated that it’s taken as long as it has and it continues to take time, but my understanding is there’s been huge progress made this week.”