Scottish lawmakers reject Brexit bill in headache for May

Oscar Cross
May 17, 2018

"If this government forces through the legislation without the consent of the Scottish Parliament, the prime minister will be doing so in the full knowledge that they are breaking the 20-year-old devolution settlement".

"That is a reasonable and sensible way forward", the Prime Minister said.

He said the plan, which could see some powers kept by the Westminster Parliament for up to seven years, "rides roughshod over devolution".

"We'll go on talking and we'll work with the other parties on this", he told BBC Radio 4.

On Tuesday the Scottish Parliament formally rejected the UK Government's key Brexit legislation, the EU Withdrawal Bill.

But the Tory Brexiteer hit back and said: "I have personally visited Holyrood four times and had lots and lots of dialogue with SNP, Labour, Liberal Democrats and academics about this problem".

The exchange in the Commons came after Scottish Secretary David Mundell claimed that some MSPs appear to have a "fundamental misunderstanding" of the Brexit legislation.

In response to the defeat, Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins said: "It's profoundly regrettable that we don't have a deal in Scotland to allow us to move on".

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"The blame for that lies entirely with the SNP".

He said: "It's patently obvious that Nicola Sturgeon wants a political crisis to provide cover for her independence drive. It's not in Scotland's interests that the SNP prefers picking fights to making a deal".

He added: "Today we are called on - for the first time - to protect those means by refusing to accept changes to them to which we have not agreed. I still think we can resolve this issue and that remains my objective", he said.

Lidington has set out details of 24 areas he said would need to come under Westminster control immediately after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union to avoid short-term confusion in areas such as food hygiene, chemicals and animal welfare, which the Scottish Government says is unacceptable.

May's government says it will consult the Scottish parliament on all changes to those policies, trying to seek agreement, while Sturgeon has decided that consultation is not enough and insists that her government should be given the legal power to block any changes it disagrees with.

It is noted that the practical implications of this decision for the Scottish Parliament will be hard to achieve.

"Obviously, there'll be an opportunity for further debate and discussion in parliament but also I hope there'll be the opportunity for debate and discussion between the two governments".

Scottish officials have accused May of a "power grab".

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