Outrage over Brexit bill
Blackford accuses Tories of ‘attack on devolution’
Ian Blackford: democratic outrage (photo by Terry Murden)
The UK Government was last night accused of committing the ‘biggest ever attack on devolution’ during a debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill.
The SNP’s Commons leader Ian Blackford described events in the House of Commons as a ‘democratic outrage’ as the transition of powers to the devolved administrations was not debated in the chamber.
He said Labour abstained on a devolution amendment ‘in a shocking dereliction of duty’.
Following the votes, SNP MPs raised Points of Order with the Speaker over the proceedings.
Mr Blackford said the Tories campaigned against the Scottish Parliament in 1997, and now want to dismantle it by centralising powers in Westminster.
The SNP says the Brexit legislation leaves Holyrood exposed to having powers taken without consent in areas including trade deals, environmental standards and food safety – all issues of key concern to the Scottish Parliament.
The SNP tabled amendments to the UK Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill to protect the Scottish Parliament from a power grab as the UK leaves the European Union.
Following the decision by the SNP, Labour, the Greens and the Lib Dems in the Scottish Parliament voted to refuse to give consent to Westminster’s damaging Brexit legislation.
Mr Blackford said: “We are witnessing the biggest ever attack on devolution with Scotland’s voice silenced by the Tories. Events in Westminster have been absolutely outrageous.
“The Tories campaigned against the Scottish Parliament in 1997 and now they are actively dismantling it – they really think they can do anything they want to Scotland and get away with it.
“For Labour to abstain on a devolution vote is gob-smacking. It is a complete dereliction of duty from the so-called party of devolution.
“The Tory power-grab would keep devolved powers including on farming, fishing, environmental protection, food standards, and labelling coming back from Brussels, centrally in London. As the First Minster has said, Scotland now faces ‘an unprecedented constitutional position, which puts at risk 19 years of constitutional convention and practice, on which devolution relies.’
“The Tories haven’t won a democratic mandate from the people of Scotland for over 60 years, yet they press on to claw back powers from Holyrood without consent. Their respect for Scotland is skin-deep at best.
“Tonight the Tory Government has downgraded devolution, disrespected the Scottish Parliament and defied the will of the Scottish people.
“History will remember this defining moment when the UK Parliament chose to reject devolution. This will haunt the Scottish Tories, and now Scottish Labour, for a generation.”
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said Cabinet Office minister David Lidington allowed for numerous interventions.
“We have already had 96 hours of debate in the Commons,” he said.