No end to impasse over Brexit bill after David Lidington meeting with Scottish Government

Written by Jenni Davidson on 2 February 2018 in News

UK Cabinet Office minister David Lidington was in Edinburgh for talks with the Scottish Government

Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland's Place in Europe Mike Russell - Image credit: Holyrood

The impasse over legislative consent for the UK Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill looks set to continue after a meeting between UK and Scottish ministers ended without “meaningful discussion”.

UK Cabinet Office minister David Lidington was in Edinburgh yesterday for talks with the Scottish Government aimed at resolving disagreement over devolved powers following Brexit.

Lidington and Scottish Secretary David Mundell met with Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Scotland’s Brexit minister, Michael Russell, to discuss the issue of repatriation of powers in Clause 11 of the bill.

The Scottish Parliament will not give its legislative consent to the bill over concerns that the clause will give the UK Government control over areas that are devolved when powers currently held by the EU are repatriated after Brexit.

However, Russell described the meeting with UK ministers as “frustrating” and claimed the UK Government had failed to bring forward any solution to the issue.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “We were pleased to welcome Mr Lidington and Mr Mundell today to set out the concerns of the Scottish Government about the Brexit process.

“However, although today’s meeting was a useful opportunity to impress again on the UK Government the Scottish Parliament’s unanimous view that the EU Withdrawal Bill is incompatible with devolution, both the Deputy First Minister and I found the discussion very frustrating.

“The UK Government has rejected Scottish and Welsh government amendments that would protect devolution but, despite its previous commitment, has failed to bring forward any solution of its own.  

“Despite many meetings, once again the UK ministers arrived and left without putting words on the table to allow for a meaningful discussion.

“So we are still in the position that the Scottish Government cannot and will not recommend that the bill should receive legislative consent.”

Russell said he had also raised issues about the rights of EU citizens – following suggestions by the Prime Minister that those coming to the UK during the transition period would have fewer rights than those who came earlier – and about Scottish Government involvement in the negotiations.

He said: “On wider EU issues we expressed our concern about the Prime Minister’s statement on EU citizens today, which is contrary to Scotland’s interests and could damage the prospect of reaching a transitional deal, which is vital for business and the economy.

“We also stressed that it is more essential than ever that the Scottish Government plays a role in the negotiations to protect Scottish jobs and living standards but despite discussion at the Joint Ministerial Committee in December there is no mechanism yet in place for that to happen.”

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