SNP rebels launch 'unwelcome and unwanted' bid to KEEP EU laws in Scotland after Brexit

Posted on Feb 28 2018 - 9:01am by admin

It is the first time that any administration has gone against the Parliament’s impartial figurehead in this way, but Brexit Minister Michael Russell said the SNP would press on, regardless of the “serious” risk to devolution.

The Bill is an alternative to Westminster’s EU Withdrawal Bill, which First Minister Nicola Sturgeon calls a “power grab” – despite a promise that almost all relevant powers will return to Scotland.

If passed, the SNP move would result in a range of European laws being transferred directly to Holyrood – but it would also allow Scotland to “keep pace with EU law, where appropriate, after the UK leaves the EU”.

Lord Advocate James Wolffe will today insist the Bill is within the Scottish Parliament’s remit, while a similar move was given the go-ahead at the Welsh Assembly yesterday.

But Mr Macintosh disagreed, leaving the SNP open to legal challenge in the UK Supreme Court, which has already ruled that Holyrood should not have any say over Brexit.

The row comes as UK Government sources insist the two sides are close to agreement over repatriated EU powers after many months of talks.

Tom Harris, the former Glasgow MP and Labour minister who led the Vote Leave campaign in Scotland, described the Bill’s timing as “a political propaganda move”.

He said: “If it were to go ahead it would infuriate the one million plus Leave voters in Scotland, but the Scottish Government have never claimed to be concerned with their views, so nothing has changed here.

“I don’t think anyone can see a situation where Scotland could unilaterally decide to stay in the single market, which is in effect what this Bill is trying to do.

“The SNP love to create big constitutional fuss and that is what they are hoping will happen in this case. Nicola Sturgeon is trying to make a stand in favour of European integration and standards and then be overruled by the UK Government, allowing her to portray herself as a victim of the overmighty and bullying Westminster. That would fit into her narrative very well.”

Scottish Tory constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said: “The tabling of this Bill is both unwelcome and unnecessary.

“Up until now there has been a constructive approach from both the UK and Scottish governments. A fix to make this process fit for purpose is within reach. But the SNP must now reflect on whether this move will help or hinder the process.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said he was still focused on achieving agreement with the Nationalists but insisted it was “crucial” that some EU laws in devolved areas return to Westminster.

He said: “We have been clear we will protect and enhance the devolution settlement as we leave the EU, and that there will be a significant increase in Holyrood’s decision-making powers.

“But it is crucial we protect the UK’s valuable common market, and to do so we will need common approaches across the UK in some areas.”

Addressing MSPs yesterday, Mr Russell said the Continuity Bill would go ahead on an emergency timetable to protect Scotland from the “unfolding disaster of Brexit”.

He added: “All MSPs can listen to the arguments and then collectively we can all decide if this Bill should become law.

“It will be a decision not of the Scottish Government but of this, our national Parliament, and that is how it should be and that is why we are bringing forward this Bill.”

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie indicated he would back the minority SNP administration.

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