PM accused of ignoring Scotland
Blackford granted Commons debate on ‘power grab’
Ian Blackford (centre) being expelled from the chamber
SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford will use a debate in Westminster on Monday to demand emergency legislation to remove a contentious devolution clause from the UK Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill.
He will reiterate calls for the Prime Minister to halt the bill to ensure it does not curtail the powers of the Scottish Parliament, and pass emergency legislation to remove what the SNP has dubbed the “power grab clause”.
The Speaker John Bercow has accepted a request by the SNP for the emergency debate on devolution.
When the EU Withdrawal Bill was debated last week in the House of Commons, no Scottish MP was able to speak and the debate was allocated just 15 minutes.
Mr Blackford asked to use parliamentary procedure to pause the Brexit legislation to ensure the will of the Scottish Parliament is respected.
After refusing a request by the speaker to resume his seat, Mr Blackford was expelled and fellow SNP members walked out in protest.
In a letter to the Speaker, Mr Blackford said the Sewel Convention established the long-held practice that the UK Government cannot legislate in devolved areas without the consent of the devolved parliament.
Clause 15 of the EU Withdrawal Bill has not received a Legislative Consent Motion from the Scottish Parliament, and Mr Blackford says it should not have been brought before the House for debate.
The SNP argues that the Brexit legislation leaves Holyrood exposed to having powers taken without consent in areas including trade deals, environmental standards and food safety.
Ian Blackford: ‘The Tories ‘ respect for Scotland is skin-deep at best’
The Scottish Parliament refused consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill – a decision backed by the SNP, Labour, Greens, and Lib Dems.
The UK government insists that the transfer of some powers from Brussels to Westminster will be temporary and that they will ensure UK uniformity in key areas.
Mr Blackford said: “We must ensure that Scotland is not ignored as we leave the EU.
“Proceedings on the EU Withdrawal Bill last week were a democratic outrage – and the Scottish Parliament must be respected.
“I am very grateful to the Speaker for granting us this time to debate devolution following the shambolic proceedings in parliament last Tuesday.
“The Prime Minister gave a commitment that she would treat Scotland as part of a ‘union of equals’. Yet she pressed ahead with a power-grab in direct opposition to Scotland’s elected Parliament.
“We hear from the Prime Minister about respecting devolution – but the Prime Minister has ignored Scotland.
“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.
“History will remember this defining moment when the UK Parliament chose to reject devolution. This will haunt the Scottish Tories for a generation.”