Scotland set to vote against Brexit bill

Nicola Sturgeon said it was time to scrap the'one size fits all approach to immigration
Nicola Sturgeon said it was time to scrap the'one size fits all approach to immigration

17 May, 2018

The Edinburgh assembly voted by 93 votes to 30 to deny consent for the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which is now going through the national parliament in London and is supposed to provide clarity on the legal position as Britain severs ties with the bloc. However, their refusal to give consent sets up an unprecedented constitutional clash between Edinburgh and Westminster and complicates UK Prime Minister Teresa May's Brexit plan.

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.

The exchange in the Commons came after Scottish Secretary David Mundell claimed that some MSPs appear to have a "fundamental misunderstanding" of the Brexit legislation.

Scotland voted on independence in 2014, before Brexit.

Scottish Brexit minister Michael Russell said it would give United Kingdom ministers "a totally free hand to pass legislation that would directly affect Scotland's fishing industry, our farmers, our environment, our public sector procurement rules, the safe use of chemicals and our food safety", while Holyrood's "hands would be tied".

If May chooses to disregard the Scottish vote, it could fuel First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's calls for a second referendum on Scottish independence and likely strengthen her argument that Scotland should be independent.

The Scottish parliament, run by the Scottish National Party (SNP), does not have veto power over the Brexit bill.

Over the summer the Supreme Court is also due to decide on the legality of the Continuity Bill, Scotland's version of the EU Withdrawal Bill, after a challenge by the UK Government.

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It would be the first time the UK Government has ignored the will of the Scottish Parliament when legislating on devolved matters since its creation in 1999.

"It would be a big moment in terms of the relationship between Westminster and Holyrood as this has never happened before and I don't think anyone wants to reach that point", said Akash Paun, senior fellow at the Institute for Government in London.

The governing party at Holyrood, the Scottish Nationalists Party (SNP), won backing from Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens MSPs to inflict the blow to British Prime Minister Theresa May's government.

In response to the defeat, Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins said: "It's profoundly regrettable that we don't have a deal in Scotland to allow us to move on".

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.

'The blame for that lies entirely with the SNP.

What is the "power grab" row about?

"It's not in Scotland's interests that the SNP prefers picking fights to making a deal".

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