UK government urged to remove Withdrawal Bill clauses constraining Scottish devolution

The Scottish government has has urged the UK government to remove the parts of the EU Withdrawal Bill that constrain devolved powers, following a vote in the Scottish Parliament.

Brexit minister Michael Russell said the decision of the Scottish Parliament to withhold consent from the withdrawal bill means it must now be adjusted to respect the vote.

The current bill will allow the UK government to prevent Holyrood from legislating in key devolved areas, such as agriculture, fisheries and the environment, for up to seven years without the consent of the parliament.

He said: “In line with the clear majority of people in Scotland, we don’t want to leave the EU and we are still working to find a way to secure as much as we can from our present relationship. But we accept that legal preparation for Brexit is required.

“However, the UK government wants to take a power to restrict the competence of this Parliament. And it wants to be able to exercise this power even in the face of an explicit decision by this Parliament that it should not.

“The Scottish Parliament has now said overwhelmingly that this attempt to undermine devolution is unacceptable.

“The UK government cannot ignore the reality of devolution or try to drown out what this Parliament says. They cannot pretend that no motion has been passed.”

He added: “If they now move to force on this Parliament an arrangement for restricting devolution that does not have Parliament’s consent they will do so in the full knowledge that they are breaking the twenty year old devolution settlement and operating out with the agreed constitution.

“The solution, as this Parliament has agreed, is straightforward. That is for the UK government to remove the clause that fundamentally undermines devolution and to proceed on the basis of agreement.

“The UK government must respect the will of the Parliament.”