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08 October 2020
MSPs vote to reject UK Internal Market Bill


MSPs vote to reject UK Internal Market Bill

MSPs have voted not to consent to the UK Government’s legislation for a post-Brexit ‘internal market’.

Members voted 90 to 28 to say that parliament "agrees not to consent" to the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill because it "constrains the competence of the Scottish Parliament and breaches international law".

Only the Scottish Conservative party voted against the motion.

The bill sets out how goods and services will be regulated after the UK leaves the EU's Common Market after Brexit. 

It has been surrounded with controversy because of sections which would break international law, attracting criticism from across the political spectrum and leading to the European Commission taking legal action against the UK.

The Scottish Government has also said it would be “deeply damaging” for devolution and has called for it to be scrapped.

It argues that under constitutional convention the UK Government should need the Scottish Parliament’s consent before passing laws that affect devolved areas. 

But the Supreme Court has previously ruled that this is a convention only, meaning the UK Government does not legally require Holyrood’s consent. 

MSPs previously refused consent for the EU Withdrawal Act.

The Internal Market Bill has passed its first reading in the House of Commons and is now in the hands of Lords. 

Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said: “The Scottish Parliament has explicitly – and comprehensively – rejected consent to the Internal Market Bill.

“As far as Scotland is concerned, today’s strong endorsement of the Scottish Government’s stance means this unnecessary Bill should now be withdrawn.

“Indeed no member of the Scottish Parliament who cared about its powers and the wishes of the people of Scotland could have possibly consented to this Bill.

“The Internal Market Bill is an unprecedented threat to the Scottish Parliament’s powers.

“It also means that if lower food and environmental standards are allowed elsewhere in the UK it will force Scotland to accept these standards regardless of any laws passed at Holyrood. The Bill will also mean the UK Government taking control of key devolved spending powers, and the devolved policy area of state aid.

“UK Government ministers have already accepted the Bill will break international law - it would now be outrageous if they decided also to shatter the constitutional convention that the Westminster Parliament does not legislate in devolved areas without consent. 

“The Scottish Parliament has overwhelmingly backed this Government’s rejection of the Bill. Now we urge the UK Government, once again, to abandon this deeply damaging Bill.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said:“It is very disappointing that the Scottish Parliament has rejected this vital piece of legislation which is clearly in the best interests of people across Scotland - protecting jobs, businesses and consumers.

“The UK Government has acted decisively to safeguard seamless trade between Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which 60 percent of Scotland's exports depend upon.  

"The devolved administration’s preference is to end devolution, separating Scotland from the rest of the UK – putting up trade barriers and creating further division, having walked away from work on the Internal Market last spring.

“We will continue to work with the devolved administration on this vital legislation.”

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