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08 January 2020
MSPs vote to reject EU withdrawal bill

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MSPs vote to reject EU withdrawal bill

The Scottish Parliament voted to say it "does not consent" to the UK Government's EU Withdrawal bill

MSPs have voted to reject the UK Government’s EU withdrawal agreement bill, with 92 MSPs backing a Scottish Government motion and 29 voting against it. 

The motion on a legislative consent memorandum was tabled by the cabinet secretary for constitutional relations Michael Russell and was backed by all the parties except the Scottish Conservatives.

Speaking during the debate, Russell said: "Scotland has had enough of being spoken for and enough of being spoken over. It's had enough of Brexit, and we should say that loudly and clearly as a country and a parliament."

The Scottish Government has refused to vote on any Brexit legislation since 2018, which is why today’s vote was on the legislative consent memorandum produced by Russell. 

The motion says that the Scottish Parliament “does not support the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration negotiated by the UK Government and does not consent to the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill that would implement that agreement.”

Presiding Officer Ken McIntosh will now write to UK Government counterparts to notify them that Holyrood has withheld consent. 

The UK Government bill is currently making its way through Westminster.

Once passed it will turn Boris Johnson’s withdrawal agreement into law.

Johnson has said that the bill “ensures we depart on 31 January. At that point Brexit will be done. It will be over."

The SNP, Liberal Democrats, Scottish Greens and Scottish Labour all backed the motion, with only the Scottish Conservatives voting against. 

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Scottish Liberal Democrats were clear that we would oppose Brexit in all its forms and that is what we will do. I still believe and will continue to make the case that we should make Brexit stop.

“There is now an important role to play in challenging, cajoling and scrutinising the government.

“Brexit has already damaged our economy and diminished our place in the world. The Conservatives must own this now.”

SNP MSP Tom Arthur said: “The Scottish Parliament has voted overwhelmingly against the EU Withdrawal Bill, in line with the decisive and repeated votes of the people of Scotland. 

“Despite this, Boris Johnson is set to rip up precedent by ignoring Holyrood and riding roughshod over Scotland’s democratic will, sparking an unprecedented constitutional crisis.  

“Scotland clearly opposes Brexit but we now face being dragged out of the EU against our will.

“In doing so, Boris Johnson is set to demolish a key principle of devolution – paving the way for a full-scale post-Brexit power grab control over Holyrood. That is something the SNP will fight every step of the way. 

“The Tories have no mandate to deliver Brexit in Scotland, and they certainly have no mandate to seize control of matters that should rightly be determined in Scotland. 

“Scotland’s future must be in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s.”

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