Sunday, 11 March 2018 06:55

MUNDELL MUST DELIVER ON BREXIT PLEDGE OR GO

The SNP has said the Scottish Secretary must either deliver on his pledge to fully protect the powers of the Scottish Parliament or consider his position.

David Mundell has been accused of making promises he can’t keep over the powers which would return to Holyrood when the UK leaves the EU. 

Mr Mundell told the House of Commons he wants to ensure the Scottish Parliament has more powers and responsibilities than it does today, and that “any frameworks should not be imposed.”

However the current proposals in the Brexit Bill would see all powers from Brussels initially return to Westminster, before some are passed on to the devolved legislatures in full and others are incorporated into UK-wide frameworks.

The SNP has said that if the UK government’s amendment does not give the Scottish Parliament the right to consent to any changes to its powers - and would see frameworks imposed - then the Scottish Secretary must stick to his position, or step down. 

According to reports in the Herald, Whitehall sources say the UK Government will go “no further” in the power grab negotiations. The source said: “I don’t sense us moving from our position. We have already moved a hell of a long way and we can’t move any further in the way the Scottish Government want us to” and “We’re still talking and officials are working hard to find a way through, but I don’t know whether we can now bridge that gap.”

The Scottish Secretary has faced ongoing criticism for failing to stand up for Scotland in Westminster. The Scottish Tories failed to bring forward amendments to the Brexit Bill to protect Scottish devolution, despite all their promises, and the Scottish Secretary was missing from Chequers last week when Theresa May gathered her Cabinet for crucial Brexit talks. 

The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford MP, also criticised David Mundell’s “deafening silence” over the UK government’s leaked Brexit papers – warning that the Scottish Secretary has questions to answer over his knowledge of the analysis which showed that a no-deal scenario could hit Scotland’s GDP by around 9%.

David Mundell also faced criticism after it was revealed in a letter from the Treasury that there has been no increase in overall UK departmental spending as a result of the Tories' deal with the DUP, as well as his failure to lobby the Prime Minister to intervene in the closure of 62 Royal Bank of Scotland branches across Scotland, despite the UK government being a majority shareholder.   

Commenting, Ian Blackford MP said:

“David Mundell must either deliver on his pledge to fully protect the powers of the Scottish Parliament or consider his position. For Mundell to be right, the UK government must agree to the Scottish Government's position on Brexit.

“The Scottish Secretary is supposed to be Scotland’s man in London but whenever the UK Government takes a major decision, he’s not invited to the table - and whenever the UK Government makes a decision that goes against Scotland’s interests, he goes into hiding rather than doing his job of challenging it.

“We saw it over the UK Government’s damning Brexit analysis, which David Mundell previously claimed didn’t exist, and when the UK Government failed to bring forward amendments to the Brexit Bill to protect Scottish devolution, despite all their promises.

“And we saw it again last week, when Mundell wasn’t even invited to Chequers where the Tory Cabinet were busy deciding their Brexit plan for the UK – leaving Scotland with no voice at the table.

"Mundell's latest blunder shows he can't be trusted when it comes to getting the best deal for Scotland when the UK leaves the EU.

“As the Scottish Tories are increasingly sidelined, they are letting us all down by failing to lift a finger to protect our national interests. Once again it falls to the SNP to stand up for Scotland."

Hansard: 7/3/18 https://protect-eu.mimecast.com/s/hL23C4QM7hJqoE5H54ZJW?domain=hansard.parliament.uk

David Mundell: I have set out clearly that, in the process of leaving the EU, I want to ensure that the Scottish Parliament has more powers and responsibilities than it does today. I also want to ensure that we have an arrangement in place to allow us to agree frameworks as we move forward, and that frameworks, as I have previously said, should not be imposed.

According to reports in the Herald, Whitehall sources say the UK Government will go “no further” in the power grab negotiations. 

http://thenational.scot/news/16067501.Scotland_set_for_constitutional_crisis_after_May_refuses_to_back_down_on_Holyrood_power_grab/

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