MSPs urged to vote against EU Withdrawal Bill

Written by Kate Shannon on 15 May 2018 in News

Brexit Minister Michael Russell said the Scottish Parliament must “unite to protect the powers of devolution”

Brexit: Picture credit - Jane Barlow/PA Wire/PA Images

Scotland’s Brexit Minister has called for Holyrood to “unite to protect the powers of devolution” and reject the EU Withdrawal Bill in a parliamentary vote later today.

Speaking in advance of a debate in the Scottish Parliament on a Legislative Consent Memorandum regarding the UK Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill, Michael Russell reiterated his concerns that the bill would give the UK Government the powers to ban the Scottish Parliament from legislating on devolved areas for up to seven years without the parliament’s consent. 

He said: “The Scottish Parliament has a powerful opportunity to unite to protect the powers of devolution and make it clear we do not accept the attempt to constrain the powers of the Scottish Parliament as it stands in the current EU Withdrawal Bill.

“This is not some abstract issue – this covers key policy areas such as farming, food and drink, fisheries and protecting the environment.

“I have said time and again it is unacceptable that the legislation gives the UK Government the power to ban the Scottish Parliament from legislating on devolved areas for up to seven years without the parliament’s consent.

“That is why I must recommend the Scottish Parliament votes against accepting the bill in it’s current form.

“There is a clear solution which is, as I have said and as the committee agreed last week, to simply remove clause 11 from the bill. I hope the UK Government will make this simple change before the legislation is passed and respect the devolution settlement Scotland voted for.”

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP is also urging SNP, Labour and the Lib Dems to stand together against the Bill.

He said: “The Tories have already given up on our European future and now they want MSPs to give up on protecting Scotland’s interests.

“I hope the rest of the Scottish Parliament stands together against Theresa May and Ruth Davidson’s devolution demolition squad.”

Scottish Labour Brexit spokesperson Neil Findlay said Labour will always seek to defend and strengthen devolution. 

He added: “The problems with clause 15, formally clause 11, mean that Labour will vote against the principle of legislative consent for the EU Withdrawal Bill at Holyrood today.

“The Tories shambolic handling of this key area for Scotland is pushing the case towards the Supreme Court.

“The people of Scotland want this mess fixed and even at this late stage there is still time to do that.

“That is why this week Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard called for cross-party talks featuring all of the parties of the Scottish Parliament to break the Tory/SNP Brexit deadlock.”

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