Devolution must be protected
EU Withdrawal Bill talks continue.
Speaking after today’s meeting with UK First Secretary of State Damian Green on the issues surrounding the current draft of the EU Withdrawal Bill - which was also attended by Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland's Place in Europe Michael Russell and Scottish Secretary David Mundell - Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:
“Today’s meeting was a useful opportunity for an exchange of views between ourselves and the UK Government on Brexit and to discuss the current draft of the EU Withdrawal Bill.
“The discussions were constructive but we remain absolutely clear that, as things stand, we will not recommend to the Scottish Parliament that it gives its consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill.
“We made clear, we are not opposed in principle to UK-wide frameworks in certain areas – but this must be on the basis of agreement among equals, not imposed by Westminster.
“The bill as currently drafted is impractical and unworkable. It is a blatant power grab which would take existing competence over a wide range of devolved policy areas, including aspects of topics like agriculture and fishing, away from Holyrood, giving them instead to Westminster and Whitehall.
“That means that unless there are serious and significant changes to the proposed legislation, we will not recommend that the Scottish Parliament give consent to the bill.
“We will continue to talk to the UK Government so that the bill is changed to protect devolution. We emphasised to the First Secretary of State that the consent of the Scottish Parliament is required if there is to be agreement in this process.
“UK Ministers should be in no doubt – to override a vote of the Scottish Parliament and impose the EU Withdrawal Bill on Scotland would be an extraordinary and unprecedented step to take.
“The current proposals are a direct threat to the devolution settlement which the people of Scotland overwhelmingly voted for in 1997.”