EU Withdrawal Bill progresses without Scottish Parliament’s consent

Written by Tom Freeman on 13 June 2018 in News

Devolution amendments defeated after less than 20 minutes of debate in the Commons

Westminster - PA

The UK Government’s leading Brexit legislation has progressed without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

A devolution amendment to the bill, which is being debated in the House of Commons, was defeated after fewer than 20 minutes of debate.

Holyrood refused consent for the bill after talks broke down between the Scottish and UK Governments over powers repatriated from Brussels that are normally devolved areas.

But the latest Commons vote means the UK Government will carry on with its plans.

It is the first time Westminster has legislated on devolved matters without the consent of MSPs since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999.

The move has attracted widespread criticism, with the Scottish Government now threatening to withdraw from intergovernmental talks on Brexit.

Scotland’s Brexit minister Michael Russell said UK ministers had “torn up the constitutional rule-book”.

“The UK Government today had a duty to amend the bill to respect the will of the Scottish Parliament. They failed to do so,” he said.

“Further Brexit bills will also require the consent of the Scottish Parliament – and yet the UK Government has decided to use this moment to tear up the rules that have until now protected devolution. We will reflect on this situation carefully as we consider next steps.”

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine said Scottish Conservative MPs had voted to deny space for meaningful debate on devolution.

“On this, the most pivotal of legislation, the Scottish Tories have effectively tried to silence MPs and the constituents they represent,” she said.

Labour opted to abstain on the vote, claiming it protected concessions already won from the UK Government.

Midlothian MP Danielle Rowley tweeted: “Unfortunately there were only two options on the table tonight. Opposing the Tories amendment would mean the clause goes back to his original state - Less powers for Scotland. And there is no adding to that at a later stage. So there is no third option here.”

Scottish secretary David Mundell told the BBC he still hoped an agreement could be reached between the UK and Scottish Governments.

"We won't be power-grabbing, we won't be overriding the Scottish Parliament, we'll be seeking their consent on all the matters this bill relates to," he said.

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