'Defining moment' as Scottish Government refuses consent for key bill



The Scottish Government is to recommend that Holyrood refuses consent for controversial legislation on trading after Brexit – setting up a potential battle with Westminster.

The UK Government says the UK Internal Market Bill will ensure that after Brexit, trade between the four countries of the UK can continue as normal.

But SNP ministers at Holyrood have called it a “power grab” on the devolved parliaments.

Now Scottish Constitution Secretary Mike Russell says he can not recommend that MSPs give the bill their backing, and said the bill would be “stone dead” without that support.

A legislative consent motion is due to be voted on early in October.

Mr Russell said: “This is a defining moment that will determine both the future of the Scottish Parliament and whether or not the UK can be described as a partnership of equal nations.”

UK Government ministers have already accepted the controversial Bill breaches international law, and Mr Russell added it would be “equally outrageous if they decided also to break the constitutional convention that the Westminster Parliament does not legislate in devolved areas without the consent of the Scottish Parliament”.

He added: : “The UK’s established constitutional rules mean that the consent of the Scottish Parliament is required for the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill to proceed.

“If the Parliament refuses to grant consent then that should kill the Bill stone dead. It will demonstrate beyond all doubt that the UK Government does not believe the UK to be a partnership of equals.”

UK ministers have argued the Bill will see more powers transferred to the devolved administrations, with Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove describing it as a “power surge”. But Mr Russell added: “This Bill opens the door to a post-Brexit race to the bottom and will mean democratic decisions of the Scottish Parliament on public health, environmental standards, food standards and a range of other key areas can be overridden.”

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The Constitution Secretary said: “The Scottish Government will ask the Parliament to make a decision on whether to grant consent next month and the memorandum we have published today sets out in detail why we could never recommend the Parliament agrees that its powers should be eroded so fundamentally.”



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