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by Jenni Davidson
09 March 2021
Scottish Government accuses Westminster of a ‘systematic attack’ on devolution

Mike Russell - Image credit: Holyrood

Scottish Government accuses Westminster of a ‘systematic attack’ on devolution

The Scottish Government has accused Westminster of a “systematic attack” on devolution and said Scotland’s powers to legislate in devolved areas are being “fundamentally undermined”.

A report from the Scottish Government on devolution after Brexit has claims the powers of the Scottish Parliament have been changed without the consent on MSPs.

It says that the Scottish Parliament’s views on Brexit have been ignored, that decisions are being made without consent and that the UK Government is spending directly in devolved areas.

It particularly highlights the UK Internal Market Act, which it claims will allow the UK Government to override decisions of the Scottish Parliament in devolved areas and unilaterally impose standards across the UK.

The report says the new powers “allows the UK Government to bypass devolved decision making, overriding democratic processes for allocating spending in Scotland”.

The act allows for “the unilateral exercise of power by UK ministers” that is “incompatible with the aims and purpose of devolution”, it says.

The Scottish Government’s constitution secretary Mike Russell said: “Bit by bit, the settlement that secured 74 per cent support in the 1997 devolution referendum, is being unpicked under the cover of Brexit and without the consent of Scottish people.

“This is not a big bang abolition – it is instead the slow demise of devolution in the hope that no-one will notice.

“The UK Government has signalled its desire is to ‘undo’ devolution and it is now repeatedly using its majority at Westminster to impose laws in devolved policy areas.

“Most alarming of all, the Internal Market Act has substantially weakened the Scottish Parliament’s powers.

“The act is going to have a very real impact on everyone in Scotland.

“The Scottish Parliament’s ability to ensure high levels of food standards and stop the sale of single-use plastics could be rendered obsolete – undoing devolution and undermining Scotland’s ability to directly shape its future.

“UK Government ministers also now have the power, at a stroke of their pen, to subject Scotland’s NHS to the market access principles the act introduces.

“That is why we will continue to resist the damaging effects of this act in every way possible, and why we are bringing forward an independence referendum bill – to keep Scottish powers in the hands of the Scottish people.”

Responding to the claims, a UK Government spokesperson said: “Now more than ever, people in Scotland want to see the UK Government and devolved administration working together to protect lives and livelihoods.

“The United Kingdom is the most successful political and economic union the world has ever seen, and this pandemic and our collective response, from the furlough scheme to vaccine procurement and the backing of our military personnel, has shown that we are at our strongest when we work together towards a common goal.

“The Prime Minister remains fully committed to strengthening and levelling up all parts of the country by empowering local communities across the United Kingdom.”

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