Brexit has seen the UK Government’s contempt for Scotland laid bare

Written by Mandy Rhodes on 18 June 2018 in Comment

Regardless of whether you think the SNP acted childishly in walking out of the House of Commons in protest, the symbolism was obvious

Image credit: PA

It is perhaps not surprising that a political party that desperately wants to take Britain back to the days of Empire building, is so willing to ignore devolution which is just 19 years young.

But last week this UK government’s contempt for Scotland was laid bare by the SNP when its MPs walked out en mass from the House of Commons in protest over the Scottish Parliament’s vote on Brexit being disregarded.

Since 1999 it has been clear that the Westminster Parliament will not normally legislate on devolved matters or change the devolution settlement without the consent of the Scottish Parliament. That constitutional convention – the Sewel Convention - has now been irrevocably broken.

And regardless of whether you think the SNP acted childishly in walking out of the House of Commons in protest at that clear democratic outrage, the symbolism was obvious – this was the moment Westminster lost Scotland.

And if the UK Government is prepared to ignore the will of the Scottish Parliament over something as vital as Brexit and the transfer of powers, then why should Scots trust it at all?

Theresa May’s party took us into a referendum that Scotland didn’t want and is now leading us into a Brexit we voted against. It’s self-evidently an exercise in self-harm. And the SNP is right to stand its ground.

But what did the walkout achieve? It condensed a dry and complicated constitutional argument into an easy soundbite about the Tories riding roughshod over Scotland; it secured an emergency three-hour debate on the Sewel Convention, it boosted the SNP membership by a further 7,000 and counting and it flushed out influential commentators who are now turning to ‘yes’. Not bad for a few minutes work.

It also helped answer the question over whether David Mundell, the Secretary of State for Scotland, is Scotland’s man in the Cabinet or the Cabinet’s man in Scotland when he said: “Scotland is not a partner of the UK. Scotland is part of the UK”

Technically right but politically tone deaf. And from the man charged with protecting Scotland’s interests at Westminster, absurd.

If the Secretary of State for Scotland sees Scotland as a bit player, then no wonder our continued subservience is hard wired.

Scotland did vote in 2014 to remain part of the UK but it did not vote for its parliament to be stripped of powers, for its MSPs to have their view ignored and for parliamentary conventions to be simply rewritten.

Mundell must be the first Secretary of State for Scotland in the history of devolution to actually seek to lessen the ability of the people of Scotland to govern their own affairs.

It’s like putting someone in charge of fishing and they then drain the seas.

Of course, there will be some that argue that the SNP will pull any stunt to further their cause of independence. But the greatest danger to the Union right now comes from the Unionists themselves.

It isn’t just that this is the most weak and unstable government known in living history or that it was the architect of a referendum that exposed the north/south divide but it is that it just doesn’t relate to Scots.

Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and even the Scots like Michael Gove or Liam Fox they just don’t seem to get Scotland. And their continued arrogance just fuels a simmering resentment over where they are taking us and how.

The SNP leader at Westminster, Ian Blackford, is an unlikely looking rebel, more Captain Manwairing than Che Guevara, but in one stroke, he has taken the party back to where it should be – challenging the sovereignty of Westminster and speaking up for Scotland.

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