Brexit: Scotland set to reject EU Withdrawal Bill


Lawmakers in the devolved Edinburgh assembly voted by 93 to 30 to refuse "legislative consent" for the highly-contested European Union (Withdrawal) Bill now being debated by the British parliament.

The vote came after months of wrangling over the bill's impact on devolved powers, and leaves the prime minister with the "high risk" decision between pressing ahead with the legislation despite its rejection by Holyrood, or making further concessions to the Scottish government to avoid a crisis, reports The Guardian.

The dispute centres on who will have control of powers now residing in Brussels, such as over farming and fisheries, once Britain leaves the EU.

The SNP said after the vote that the Conservative government at Westminster should make changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill to address the concerns of the Scottish parliament.

Overruling Holyrood, the Scottish Parliament, would be politically sensitive - particularly over such a historic move as Brexit - and would set a precedent in a constitutional set-up that's only 20 years old. Nicola Sturgeon has refused to compromise.

"The UK government can not ignore the reality of devolution or try to drown out what this parliament says".

With the Greens, Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats having said they will join the SNP and vote against granting consent, it is certain to be passed when MSPs vote on the matter at 5pm on Tuesday.

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Yesterday, David Lidington, Mrs May's de facto deputy, and Mr Russell accepted a Labour offer of cross-party talks to try and resolve the stand-off but the Tories argued that Ms Sturgeon does not want an agreement.

In fact, Theresa May has ignored the will of the Scottish Parliament before, refusing to grant a second independence referendum past year after MSPs had voted for it.

Scottish Labour, which has been pressing for cross-party talks in a bid to end the row, said it was "welcome" both the United Kingdom and Scottish governments had agreed to these.

"The solution, as this parliament has agreed, is straightforward". MSP Ash Denham said that if Ms May's government valued devolution they would remove clause 11 from the Bill. That is why I must recommend the Scottish Parliament votes against accepting the bill in its current form.

Sturgeon has rejected claims by May's Scottish Conservative allies that she is trying to "weaponise Brexit" to further her aim of Scottish independence.

"The danger if I am being less optimistic, or pessimistic, is that the whole process crashes before [a deal] can emerge because time is running out and the clock is ticking", Sturgeon said on Monday.

He added the Tories' "shambolic handling" of matters meant the issue could be resolved in the Supreme Court - where judges will rule if the Scottish Government's alternative Continuity Bill falls within Holyrood's legislative competence.