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Brexit consent from Holyrood should be withheld, says Scottish Government

A legislative consent motion or Sewell motion must be lodged in the devolved parliaments.

Mike Russell has recommended that Scottish Parliament consent is withheld for the new Brexit Bill (Jane Barlow/PA)
Mike Russell has recommended that Scottish Parliament consent is withheld for the new Brexit Bill (Jane Barlow/PA)

By Craig Paton, PA Scotland Political Reporter

The Scottish Government has recommended consent from Holyrood for the new Brexit deal should be withheld.

Under the devolution settlement, a legislative consent motion (LCM), also known as a Sewel motion, must be lodged in the devolved parliaments when the UK Government is looking to pass a law on a matter for which Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland has power.

An LCM has now been lodged in the Scottish Parliament by Brexit Secretary Mike Russell.

An LCM is a political convention that does not provide the devolved administrations with the legal ability to veto decision made at Westminster and therefore is not needed for the UK Government to pass legislation.

Mr Russell has described the attempts of the UK Government to pass its new Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) as “irresponsible and disrespectful” to the devolved administrations.

Writing to Westminster to announce the lodging of the LCM, Mr Russell said: “It is essential that it should receive scrutiny in all of the UK’s legislatures, that there should be the proper opportunity for civil society to consider it and for citizens to understand its meaning and significance, and for all constitutional conventions, including the Sewel Convention, to be respected during its passage.”

The Scottish Government has also requested the Scottish Parliament be recalled on Thursday to allow for a decision on the LCM, should the House of Commons push for passage of the WAB by October 31.

The decision to recall Parliament can only be made by Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh, who it is understood is monitoring proceedings at Westminster before reaching a decision to call MSPs back this week, breaking up the two-week October recess.

Scottish Conservatives constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins accused the Scottish Government of calculating “which course of action is most likely to drive up grievance and resentment, then acted accordingly”.

He added: “This isn’t an administration serious about making Brexit work for the people of Scotland.

“It wants to do the opposite and is now openly coveting a no-deal scenario because it thinks that will boost support for separation.

“As a Government, the SNP’s behaviour has been abhorrent, and is an insult to the people it is meant to be governing.”

SNP MPs in Westminster have tabled an amendment to the WAB, which declines a second reading of the Bill if the Scottish Parliament refuses to give its consent.

PA

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