Scottish and Welsh FMs ask for longer Brexit extension to allow second EU referendum
The Scottish and Welsh First Ministers have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Council President Donald Tusk, asking for a Brexit delay that is long enough to hold a second EU referendum.
In the letter to Tusk, Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford informed him of a requirement for the UK Government to secure the consent of the Scottish and Welsh legislatures and expressed their “support for an extension long enough to enable a referendum to be held”.
“It is simply impossible for us to fulfil our constitutional responsibilities in this timescale, which is dictated by the way in which the Prime Minister delayed tabling formal proposals,” the letter said.
“An extension would allow us to adequately scrutinise the agreement and the draft legislation in accordance with our constitutional responsibilities.
“While clearly it is a matter for the Council to consider how long such an extension should be, we would favour one which is long enough to enable a referendum with remain on the ballot paper to be held in the UK. Both of our governments and legislatures are in favour of such a referendum and of the UK remaining in the EU.”
In the letter to Johnson, the FMs have asked the UK Government to secure an extension to the Article 50 process from the European Council, which will provide enough time for “both legislatures to carry out their proper constitutional and democratic functions”.
“This bill will be among the most important pieces of legislation ever considered by the UK Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales, with far-reaching implications for the whole of the United Kingdom and our future well-being,” the letter to the PM said.
“Both our governments believe the deal you have negotiated with the EU will be even more damaging to Wales, Scotland and the United Kingdom than the previous unacceptable agreement made by your predecessor.
“We therefore wish to state in the clearest possible terms that we and our legislatures need time to analyse and consider the draft bill. We share the view which lay behind the amendment passed by a clear majority of the House of Commons that the time between now and 31 October provides insufficient opportunity to undertake this essential scrutiny.
“It is essential that your government respects devolution, the legislative consent process and any decisions on consent that the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly may reach.”
Johnson was forced to send a letter to EU leaders requesting a three-month extension to the Brexit deadline after losing a crunch House of Commons vote on Saturday.
Meanwhile, on Monday the Scottish Government asked party business managers whether they would agree to recall Scottish Parliament to return this Thursday, to allow for debate on the Legislative Consent Motion to enable Brexit legislation. Holyrood is in recess and would normally return next Tuesday 29 October.
Sturgeon tweeted: “Recall would allow an opportunity, but outrageous that vital scrutiny expected to happen in such short timescale.”
“Seems UKG [UK Government] will try to ram Withdrawal Agreement Bill through in days, ignoring requirement of @ScotParl (and @AssemblyWales) to consider Legislative Consent Motions,” she said on Twitter.
Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie said if parliament was recalled, then his party would “vote against Brexit again on Thursday”.
“The vote on Thursday in the Scottish Parliament will be another signal that the Brexit deal is a bad idea. It is time for Scottish Conservatives to show some backbone,” Rennie said.
“They need to vote against a Brexit deal that puts an internal border in the Irish Sea. It breaks the Conservatives’ promise and risks the future of the United Kingdom. Brexit is bad for the UK.”