Nicola Sturgeon dismisses latest Brexit offer in devolution row
Scotland’s First Minister said the Withdrawal Bill seeks to restrict the Scottish Parliament’s powers to legislate in devolved areas.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said it is “very likely” the Scottish Parliament will not give consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill following Westminster’s latest offer.
Theresa May’s Government is at odds with Holyrood and Cardiff Bay about whether powers returned from Brussels after Brexit go to the devolved administrations or Whitehall.
Cabinet minister David Lidington on Monday said the UK Government had made a “considerable offer” to the devolved administrations with a commitment that the “vast majority” of powers returning from Brussels will start off in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast rather than Whitehall.
Ms Sturgeon said Holyrood is simply trying to protect the powers that the Scottish Parliament already has over areas such as agriculture, fishing, environmental policy, food standards, justice and health.
She told BBC Radio 4: “After Brexit, in terms of the devolution settlement, those powers should return to the Scottish Parliament and it should be up to us how we exercise them.
“What the Withdrawal Bill seeks to do is restrict and constrain the ability of the Scottish Parliament or the Welsh Assembly to legislate in these devolved areas .
“Westminster effectively wants to be able to impose uniformity in these areas and that’s not acceptable in terms of the broad sweep and fundamentals of the devolution settlement.”
She said they have tried very hard to find agreement but that it is likely Holyrood will not give consent to the Brexit Bill as it stands.
She said: “We are still trying, through discussions, to reach agreement but if I look at the situation right now I think it’s very likely that that’s the position both the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government will be in, of saying to our respective parliaments we do not recommend approval of the Withdrawal Bill and we will introduce then our own legislation in devolved matters to give continuity to EU law in the Brexit scenario.”
Ms Sturgeon welcomed Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement on Monday that Labour would seek to form a “new and comprehensive” UK-EU customs union to ensure tariff-free trade after Brexit as “movement” and said she hopes Labour is on a journey towards embracing a single market/customs union outcome.
She said there is a chance of seeing a majority in the House of Commons that could keep the UK in the single market and the customs union.
However, she said there is equally a “very real risk” that the UK could “crash out” of the EU without a deal.