Monday, 18 June 2018 19:57

BLACKFORD: UK GOVERNMENT HAS 2 DAYS TO AMEND BREXIT BILL

Ian Blackford MP said the UK Government has just two days to amend the EU Withdrawal Bill to protect Scotland from a power grab.

The SNP Westminster Leader said emergency legislation must be brought forward to ensure the devolution settlement is not dismantled as the UK leaves the European Union. 

The Speaker John Bercow accepted a request by the SNP for an emergency debate on devolution and the Sewel Convention. When the EU Withdrawal Bill was debated last week in the House of Commons, no Scottish MP was able to speak and the debate was allocated just 15 minutes - meaning the wishes of the Scottish Parliament were ignored.

The EU Withdrawal Bill will continue in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

The Sewel Convention established the long-held practice that the UK Government cannot legislate in devolved areas without the consent of the devolved parliament. The Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly, by 93 to 30, to refuse legislative consent for Clause 15 of the EU Withdrawal Bill, and as such it should have passed through the House of Commons without the Clause being removed. 

The Clause would allow the UK government to legislate in important devolved areas including the environment, food standards, agriculture and fishing. The SNP were joined by Labour, Green and Lib Dem MSPs in voting to withhold consent – with only the Scottish Tories backing the power grab.

Commenting, Ian Blackford MP said:

“The clock is ticking – the Tory government has just two days to stop their power grab on the Scottish Parliament. 

“Proceedings on the EU Withdrawal Bill last week were a democratic outrage - the Scottish Parliament must be respected.

“I am very grateful to the Speaker for granting us this time to debate devolution following the shambolic proceedings in parliament last Tuesday. 

“For the Secretary of State to be present in the chamber but not contribute is simply not good enough. Scotland’s voice was silenced while he stood by and did nothing as the UK Government enacted a grab on the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

“The Prime Minister gave a commitment that she would treat Scotland as part of a ‘union of equals’. Yet she pressed ahead with a power-grab in direct opposition to Scotland’s elected Parliament.

"The Tories haven't won an election in Scotland in 55 years, yet they press on to claw back powers from Holyrood without consent. 

"History will remember this defining moment when the UK Parliament chose to reject devolution. This will haunt the Scottish Tories for a generation.

“We are days away, the clock is ticking – the Government must now act. I urge the Government choose to be on the right side of history - do the right thing by the people of Scotland – and bring forward emergency legislation immediately to delete clause 15 and schedule 3 to protect Scottish devolution and our Scottish Parliament.”

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