Back

EU Withdrawal Bill



Michael Russell, the Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland's Place in Europe has set out his opposition to the EU Withdrawal Bill on the grounds that it ignores devolved powers. 

The Bill proposes transferring all responsibility for EU to Westminster, including for devolved issues such as Justice, Fisheries, Forestry, Agriculture or Research. 

This would mean loss of powers for Scotland on several essential areas. Mr Russell called this move 'deliberate' and a 'cover' for a Westminster power grab, saying:

“The EU (Withdrawal) Bill appears to represent a deliberate decision by the UK Government to use the process of Brexit as cover for taking powers in areas of policy which are clearly within the responsibility of this Parliament.

“In areas of Scottish devolved responsibility vital to the success of our country, such as agriculture, the environment, fisheries, forestry, research, or justice cooperation, the Scottish Parliament will have no say over what comes back from the EU on withdrawal or what is done with these important policy areas afterwards. 

“It is not a logical, or essential, part of any Withdrawal Bill that new limitations are placed on the Scottish Parliament’s powers, on the National Assembly for Wales’s powers, or on the powers of the Northern Ireland Assembly.”

He added 

“The EU (Withdrawal) Bill appears to represent a deliberate decision by the UK Government to use the process of Brexit as cover for taking powers in areas of policy which are clearly within the responsibility of this Parliament.

“In areas of Scottish devolved responsibility vital to the success of our country, such as agriculture, the environment, fisheries, forestry, research, or justice cooperation, the Scottish Parliament will have no say over what comes back from the EU on withdrawal or what is done with these important policy areas afterwards. 

“It is not a logical, or essential, part of any Withdrawal Bill that new limitations are placed on the Scottish Parliament’s powers, on the National Assembly for Wales’s powers, or on the powers of the Northern Ireland Assembly.”

Mr Russell added:

“This is not a debate about whether we should leave the European Union.  The position of this government and indeed the position of the people of Scotland expressed in last year’s referendum is clear on that matter.  We don’t want to leave.”

But, he said:  “We  have frequently made it clear that, despite our wish to maintain EU membership, we recognise our obligation to prepare Scotland as best we can for what might transpire. Indeed Brexit is going to be such a dramatic, damaging upheaval to the UK’s legal systems and to our laws that it is imperative that we do everything we can to prepare responsibly for the consequences of EU withdrawal.   

“The only appropriate way to divide powers between the governments is this: powers in relation to policy areas which are devolved must be for devolved ministers and devolved legislatures. Thereafter, there will be space, time and willingness to agree cooperation over the shared use of these powers in a way which respected the responsibility of this Parliament to hold to account those who make decisions in devolved areas.” 

Source: Scottish Government 12/9/17. https://beta.gov.scot/news/eu-withdrawal-bill-2017-09-12/

       
Centre for Scottish Public Policy
c/o Digby Brown LLP
160 Causewayside
Causewayside House
Edinburgh EH9 1PR
Follow us