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by Kirsteen Paterson
22 September 2022
Brexit: 'Fundamental' questions about devolution must be addressed, MSPs say

MSPs have raised concerns about the impact of Brexit on devolution

Brexit: 'Fundamental' questions about devolution must be addressed, MSPs say

"Fundamental" questions about the way devolution works outwith the EU "must be addressed", a new report by MSPs warns.

Differences between the views of the UK and devolved governments on future alignment with EU law raise serious constitutional issues, it is claimed.

And the extent of UK ministers' new delegated powers in devolved areas is a "significant constitutional change" causing "considerable concerns", according to Holyrood's cross-party Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee, which has today published a paper on the impact of Brexit on devolution.

It highlights "substantive differences" between the UK Government and the Scottish and Welsh governments on future legal matters. Key questions include the extent to which the UK can "potentially accommodate four different regulatory environment within a cohesive internal market", and whether current practices are enough to resolve differences between the governments "while respecting the devolution settlement".

The Sewel Convention, which applies when the UK Parliament wants to legislate on a devolved issue, is now "under strain", the committee found, and "much wider public debate about where power lies within the devolution settlement" is now needed.

The report states: "The Committee’s view is that the extent of UK ministers’ new delegated powers in devolved areas amounts to a significant constitutional change. We have considerable concerns that this has happened and is continuing to happen on an ad hoc and iterative basis without any overarching consideration of the impact on how devolution works."

The committee will now seek the views of the Welsh and UK governments.

Clare Adamson, convener of the committee, said: "As a committee, we have already set out our concerns about the risks for devolved parliaments as a result of Brexit. But the questions raised in our report make it clear that there are fundamental issues which must be addressed urgently. Without wider debate, both in this parliament and elsewhere, these fundamental questions will go unresolved and the way devolution works outside of the EU will remain uncertain."

Deputy convener Donald Cameron added: "This debate is not simply one for governments and parliaments, but businesses, civic society and the wider public as well, in order that we can fully explore the current issues facing not just the Scottish Parliament, but the wider devolution process."

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