The Government has managed to get the EU Withdrawal Bill through its latest stage with support from the Democratic Unionist Party, promises to Tory rebels, and abstentions from some opposition MPs. The Bill has now been passed back to the House of Lords where it will be debated on Monday 18th June.
European Economic Area (EEA)
This would have allowed the option of the UK being in the EEA – part of the single market with the free movement of people and goods. This was rejected. The Government won supported by the DUP and with Labour split over the issue.
This option was also rejected – Government won with DUP support.
Charter of Fundamental Rights
This amendment would have retained the Charter of Fundamental Rights when the UK leaves the EU. That has also been rejected – Government won with DUP support.
EU Law and Environmental Protections
This would have ensured that all EU environmental protections were retained with Brexit but it was also rejected – Government winning with DUP support.
With only 15 minutes left to debate Devolution SNP MPs were incensed that no Scottish MPs were able to debate this issue. This would have protected the powers that the devolved administrations currently have. The Government again won this with the support of the DUP and most opposition MPs abstaining. Carmichael Abstains on Crucial Power Grab Vote
What has been the reaction?
Michael Russell the Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, in the Scottish Government, described it as a ‘dark day for devolution.’ Dark Day for Devolution
SNP MPs were incensed at the short time and no debate being left for Devolution and walked out of Prime Ministers Questions. This was followed by a huge surge in membership of the SNP as people watched MPs in the House of Commons mocking their action.
Secretary of State David Mundell made a statement on the Sewel Convention (Devolution) on Thursday 14th of June having been requested to do so by Ian Murray Labour. David Mundell insisted that the Government respects the devolved administrations and that the Welsh Labour Government supported the measures.
David Mundell said:
” At every stage, the SNP has disregarded the need to preserve this market [UK ] and to ensure that there are no new barriers to working or doing business in the UK. The UK internal market is worth over four times more to businesses in Scotland than EU trade, and we must make sure that it is preserved as we leave the EU.”
Whilst he insisted that it was not a crisis he did say:
“in situations of disagreement the UK Parliament may be required to legislate without the consent of devolved legislatures.”
Paul Sweeney of Labour referring to David Mundell as “Scotland’s invisible man in the Cabinet” accused him of ” trampling all over that convention that underpins the devolution settlement. “
Leader of the SNP Ian Blackford wondered if that was all David Mundell had.
Ian Blackford said:
“The Sewel convention is clear that the UK Government should not legislate on devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament. However, the Scottish Parliament—not the Scottish Government—has denied its consent.”
Christine Jardine, Liberal Democrat, who abstained on the Devolution division,agreed with David Mundell that it was not a constitutional crisis and accused the SNP MPs of having a hissy fit.
Several MPS suggested David Mundell resign.
There will be an emergency debate granted by the Speaker to Ian Blackford SNP, Monday 18th June on the Sewel Convention.
The Scottish Parliament overwhelmingly voted for the Conciliation Bill protecting the powers it already has – only the Conservatives voted against it. Protecting Parliament for the People The UK Government is in dispute with the Scottish Parliament over this and is applying to the Supreme Court for a decision on the matter. Case Details This hearing is due to start on 24th of July.
Sounds a bit like a constitutional crisis.
Why is this important?
The whole of Scotland voted to remain in the EU. It is one of the nations which makes up the United Kingdom. It was assured on many occasions that it was a valued partner. This has now been dismissed by the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell when he stated during his statement on the Sewel Convention that Scotland was not an equal partner in the United Kingdom but indeed only a part of the UK.
The powers that the UK Government will have taken from the Scottish Parliament concern farming, fishing, the environment, food standards and more. It would mean no matter how much the Scottish Parliament objected to fracking, or fishing agreements, the loss of protected named status for our products – it would count for nothing. And for our successful farmers and crofters, UK wide Frameworks, where Scotland’s views can be disregarded, it will be disastrous. Threat to Scottish Farming as the UK Government is Set to Take Back Control
And all this time the clock is ticking which Theresa May set going. March 29th 2019 – the date the UK leaves the EU and still nothing has been agreed except this – Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community
Reporter: Fiona Grahame