Scottish parliament rejects Brexit legislation

Charlene Craig
May 17, 2018

A year ago the Supreme Court ruled that the well established convention of Westminster not normally making laws in devolved areas is merely a political convention, which is not legally enforceable.

SNP Brexit minister Mike Russell told the BBC the bill in its current form "rides roughshod over devolution" and accused Westminster of "trying to subvert that and to change that by the back door".

Edinburgh and London have disagreed for months over how to manage Brexit, with both governments agreeing that post-Brexit policies should be the same across the United Kingdom, but disputing the details of those policies on issues like genetically modified crops, fishing quotas and farm subsidies.

MSPs today backed a notion making clear that Holyrood "does not consent" to the European Union withdrawal bill, which could spark a constitutional crisis.

What happens next now the consent motion has been rejected?

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It has never been done before by the devolved Parliament in Holyrood. "It would be even more outrageous if, having seen Holyrood specifically refuse consent to this Bill, the Tories imposed it on Scotland against our will", she said.

But it would be politically unpopular and fuel the SNP's arguments that Westminster is ignoring the concerns of Scots and pursuing an English hard Brexit.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, he challenged Mrs May to "respect the will of the Scottish Parliament and work with the Scottish government to amend the Withdrawal Bill". Members of the Scottish National Party, the Labor Party, the Liberal Democrats and Scottish Greens showed a rare unity, approving the proposal of the Scottish government to reject the European Union withdrawal bill.

The dispute centers on who will have control of powers now residing in Brussels, such as over farming and fisheries, once Britain leaves the EU.

While Mr Lidington has said he is "open to suggestions that would improve the Bill" the UK Government has repeatedly refused to drop clause 15 - which was formerly clause 11 - from the legislation.

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Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has been calling for cross party talks to resolve the dispute.

"I have said time and again it is unacceptable that the legislation gives the UK Government the power to ban the Scottish Parliament from legislating on devolved areas for up to seven years without the Parliament's consent".

"The danger if I am being less optimistic, or pessimistic, is that the whole process crashes before [a deal] can emerge because time is running out and the clock is ticking", Sturgeon said on Monday.

"The blame for that lies entirely with the SNP".

Because of a general inertia among Scots over the issue, Nicola McEwen, politics professor at the Centre on Constitutional Change at Edinburgh University, suggested that the Scottish government should instead play the long game.

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