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Scotland ignites Brexit spat after issuing legal opposition to controversial trade law | Politics | News

The Scottish Government has lodged a Legislative Consent Memorandum (LCM) with the Scottish Parliament which claims the Bill undermines devolution and breaches international law. The Bill, put forward by Business Secretary Alok Sharma ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period later this year will protect UK trade, ministers say.

But the Tory party has faced severe opposition because the deal will override elements of the Northern Ireland Protocol through the domestic legislation.

However, Boris Johnson’s Government has pushed on with the UK Internal Market Bill regardless and MPs are due to debate it in the House of Commons tomorrow.

The SNP motion recommends Holyrood, who have the final say on the vote, to refuse consent for new Westminster legislation in a rare move for a piece of UK legislation.

Scotland’s Constitutional Secretary Michael Russell said today that the move was a “defining moment that will determine both the future of the Scottish Parliament and whether or not the UK can be described as a partnership of equal nations”.


Boris Johnson

The Scottish Government has formally expressed opposition to the Bill (Image: Getty )


Michael Russell issued a statement today (Image: Getty)

He added: “UK Government ministers have accepted the Bill will break international law.

“It would be equally outrageous if they decided also to break the constitutional convention that the Westminster Parliament does not legislate in devolved areas without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

“The UK’s established constitutional rules mean that the consent of the Scottish Parliament is required for the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill to proceed.

“If the Parliament refuses to grant consent then that should kill the Bill stone dead.

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Alister Jack

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has disputed the Scottish Government’s claims about the Bill (Image: Getty)

“It will demonstrate beyond all doubt that the UK Government does not believe the UK to be a partnership of equals.

“This Bill opens the door to a post-Brexit race to the bottom and will mean democratic decisions of the Scottish Parliament on public health, environmental standards, food standards and a range of other key areas can be overridden.

“The Scottish Government will ask the Parliament to make a decision on whether to grant consent next month and the memorandum we have published today sets out in detail why we could never recommend the Parliament agrees that its powers should be eroded so fundamentally.”

It comes as European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic has reiterated calls for the UK to withdraw provisions in the Internal Market Bill overriding the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement by the end of the month.

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Nicola Sturgeon

The Scottish Government says the Bill threatens Devolution (Image: Getty)

Following a meeting of the Joint Committee on the implementation of the agreement in Brussels, Mr Sefcovic said the UK’s position was still “far apart” from what the EU could accept.

“We maintain that the Bill if adopted in its current form would constitute an extremely serious violation of the (Northern Ireland) protocol as an essential part of the Withdrawal Agreement and of international law,” he said.

“The Withdrawal Agreement is to be implemented, not to be renegotiated, let alone unilaterally changed, disregarded or disapplied.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said last week that the UK Government plans to press ahead with the legislation – without the backing of the Scottish Parliament if necessary.

Alok Sharma

Alok Sharma put forward the Bill earlier this year (Image: Getty)

He also accused the SNP run administration at Holyrood for not providing accurate information about the Bill.

In a letter to Ms Sturgeon earlier this month: “As we’ve been clear, the Bill will protect and strengthen our internal market which is so vital to Scotland’s economy with 60 percent of our exports, worth over £50 billion per year, going to other parts of the United Kingdom.

“It will also create new opportunities for the UK Government, working with the Scottish Government, local authorities and other partners, to invest in Scotland.”

Legislative Consent Memorandums are usually lodged in the Scottish Parliament by the Scottish Government.

Mark Drakeford

The concerns have been shared by Welsh Counterpart Mark Drakeford (Image: Getty)

These motions were put in place under the Sewel Convention.

The Convention is an understanding that the UK Parliament will not normally pass Bills that contain relevant provisions without first obtaining the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

The consent itself is given through a motion which is taken in the Chamber but the detailed scrutiny is undertaken by a Scottish Parliament committee on the basis of a memorandum.

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