Joanna Cherry said there was a “huge disconnect” between the UK Government’s denials that its flagship Brexit legislation represents a power grab, and the arguments advanced by Advocate General for Scotland Lord Keen at the Supreme Court this week.
Seven justices at the UK’s highest court are expected to rule later this year on whether the Scottish Parliament’s Continuity Bill, which asserts Holyrood’s control over 24 disputed powers in devolved areas returning from Brussels after Brexit, is constitutional.
Keen argued that Holyrood had attempted to “modify” the provisions of Westminster’s EU Withdrawal Act, which sets out how European law will be transferred into British statute on Brexit day.
Cherry said that despite being passed by MSPs before the EU Withdrawal Act completed its passage through Westminster, the Continuity Bill was prevented from receiving Royal Assent by the legal challenge from Whitehall.
It means that while the Continuity Bill is not yet law, the UK Government was able use amendments in the House of Lords to have its own Brexit bill added to Schedule 4 of the Scotland Act, a list of protected legislation that cannot be modified by the Scottish Parliament.