SNP vows to amend Brexit legislation, after Supreme Court rules Scottish Parliament approval not required to leave EU

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 24 January 2017 in News

Supreme Court rules that Theresa May must seek approval from the UK Parliament before triggering Article 50

 

EU flag at the Supreme Court - credit: PA

The Supreme Court has ruled that Theresa May must seek approval from the UK Parliament before triggering Article 50 and beginning the process of taking the UK out of the EU.

Upholding the High Court's judgment by a majority of eight to three, the Supreme Court also ruled that there is no legal requirement for the devolved administrations to be consulted, meaning the Scottish Parliament’s consent will not be required.

Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger said the Sewel Convention, which holds that the Scottish Parliament’s consent is needed for Westminster to pass legislation which will affect devolved areas “plays an important role in the operation of the UK constitution” but that “the policing of its scope and operation is not within the constitutional remit of the courts”.


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Jeremy Corbyn re-iterated his pledge not to “frustrate” the process for invoking Article 50, but said Labour will table amendments “to prevent the Conservatives using Brexit to turn Britain into a bargain basement tax haven off the coast of Europe”.

He said: “Labour will seek to build in the principles of full, tariff-free access to the single market and maintenance of workers' rights and social and environmental protections. Labour is demanding a plan from the government to ensure it is accountable to Parliament throughout the negotiations and a meaningful vote to ensure the final deal is given parliamentary approval.”

Meanwhile the SNP reacted by vowing to put forward 50 “serious and substantive” amendments to the UK government’s legislation.

The party will call on the UK government to publish a White Paper before invoking Article 50, while demanding the PM seeks unanimous agreement from the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) that the triggering of Article 50 encompasses the UK’s devolved.

It will also table amendments requiring the Government to reach an agreement with the European Commission that any failure of the UK Parliament to ratify the final terms of negotiation will result in a revision of the current terms of UK membership.

SNP International Affairs spokesperson Alex Salmond said: “We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision and hope that their ruling brings this Tory government back to the reality that they cannot simply bypass elected Parliamentarians to fulfil their role in carrying out due and proper scrutiny of one of the biggest decisions facing the UK.

He added: “If Theresa May is intent on being true to her word that Scotland and the other devolved administrations are equal partners in this process, then now is the time to show it. Now is the time to sit with the Joint Ministerial Committee and not just casually acknowledge, but constructively engage. Consultation must mean consultation.

“Our amendments will address the very serious concerns facing the UK and the very real issues that the UK government has, thus far, avoided."

The justices ruled against the UK Government, stating that May cannot use the royal prerogative to Trigger Article 50.

Attorney General Jeremy Wright said the Government was disappointed by the decision, but that the Government would comply.

A government spokesperson said: “The British people voted to leave the EU, and the government will deliver on their verdict – triggering Article 50, as planned, by the end of March. Today’s ruling does nothing to change that.

“It’s important to remember that Parliament backed the referendum by a margin of 6 to 1 and has already indicated its support for getting on with the process of exit to the timetable we have set out.

“We respect the Supreme Court’s decision, and will set out our next steps to Parliament shortly.”

Brexit Secretary David Davis is expected to make a further statement in Parliament later today.

Neuberger said: “The government has the prerogative power to withdraw from treaties as it sees fit. It cannot do so if it will change UK laws unless authorised to do so by Parliament.”

 

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