Mike Russell: Time for talking about Brexit legislation amendments well over
The Holyrood Brexit minister made the comments ahead of talks with Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.
Holyrood’s Brexit minister has challenged the UK Government to produce amendments to key Brexit legislation.
Mike Russell said Scottish ministers are becoming “increasingly exasperated by the UK Government’s approach” to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, adding that the “time for talking about this is well over”.
Mr Russell, together with Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney, will hold talks with David Lidington, Theresa May’s defacto deputy, and Scottish Secretary David Mundell.
Ahead of the meeting, Mr Russell made clear the Scottish Government was looking for action from Westminster.
Speaking at Holyrood’s Europe Committee, the Brexit minister said: “The UK Government is a government, it needs to come to this Parliament with a proposal for an amendment, to discuss that sensibly, then we will come to an agreement if we can.
“But we must stop having meetings about meetings, we must stop dragging this out endlessly.
“That will be the message that John Swinney and I put very clearly today, politely, when welcoming David Lidington to Scotland.
“We are very clear what the situation is and we don’t want to leave him in any doubt about this – the time for talking about this is well over.”
Grateful to the members of the House of Lords who attended tonight’s standing room only briefing on #EUWithdrawalBill , addressed by @MarkDrakeford and I . Strong feeling regarding the failure of @GOVUK to bring forward agreed amendments on devolution issues— Michael Russell (@Feorlean) January 29, 2018
The discussions, which will take place in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday evening, come as the Conservative government and the devolved administrations are in a stand-off over the Brexit Bill, with both Edinburgh and Cardiff refusing to give their consent unless changes are made.
The two devolved administrations have branded clause 11 of the legislation a “power grab” as it transfers devolved EU powers to Westminster in the first instance.
The Conservatives, however, have insisted this is necessary to set up UK-wide frameworks before further devolution can take place.
The UK Government had previously indicated it would bring forward amendments to the Bill but failed to do so while the legislation was being considered by the House of Commons.
Earlier this week, Mr Russell briefed peers on the legislation and said a debate in the House of Lords showed that “they thought the Scottish Government had been badly treated”.
He said: “We are now told there will be an amendment in the Lords, we have not seen the amendment, therefore it is not agreed, and until we see the amendment there is no amendment and there will therefore be no legislative consent, it simply won’t happen.”
Mr Lidington, who is also in Wales for talks, said he was “looking forward to continuing my discussions with Carwyn Jones and John Swinney on how we can make progress with the EU Withdrawal Bill”.
He added that the different governments needed to “work together to find an agreed way forward”.
Mr Mundell stated: “We want to agree an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill which we can then bring forward in the Lords.”