Another stalemate in UK/Scotland post-Brexit devolution talks

Written by Tom Freeman on 23 February 2018 in News

Michael Russell reports no agreement on devolved powers after latest round of joint ministerial talks

Scotland Office by Graham Chandler

Talks between the UK and Scottish Government have again failed to reach an agreement over which powers repatriated from Brussels are automatically given to Holyrood.

The Scottish Government argue that all areas currently devolved should remain under the jurisdiction of the Scottish Parliament, while the UK Government wants to give all powers to Westminster in the first instance, so that UK-wide regulatory frameworks can be put in place.

After meeting yesterday, both sides reported progress but had yet to come to an agreement.

The Joint Ministerial Committee on European Union Negotiations was set up to allow Scottish ministers to feed into Brexit negotiations, but instead has been focused on the progress of the EU Withdrawal bill through Westminster.

After pressure from Scottish MPs ministers are thought to have agreed to hand the "vast majority" of powers to the devolved administrations - albeit with some supervisory control being withheld at Westminster - and yesterday the UK Government had hoped to reach an agreement with Scotland's Brexit minister Michael Russell.

But speaking after the meeting, he said: "The absolutely fundamental point is that the devolution settlement and the powers of the Scottish Parliament cannot be changed unilaterally by the UK Government. What happens to devolved powers must be a matter for Holyrood and the UK Government must recognise that.

"Progress is being made and we will continue to talk. I will continue to fight for the best deal for Scotland."

Scotland secretary David Mundell said: "These are complex negotiations but I think the UK government has demonstrated, by bringing forward the draft of an amendment, that we are demonstrating flexibility and we are addressing concerns that both the Scottish government and the Scottish Parliament have raised."

The two sides have until March to reach an agreement, or the EU Withdrawal Bill faces being passed by the Lords without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

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