BREXIT: Scottish government calls for protection of devolved powers

Minister for negotiations on Scotland’s place in Europe Michael Russell wrote to all MSPs asking them for full backing of the Scottish government's position. The move comes after the UK government published the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill on Thursday last week.

Russell said the Scottish government had “serious concerns about the bill in a number of areas”. He said the withdrawal bill lifted the requirement to comply with EU law from the UK government and parliament, but imposed new restrictions on the devolved legislatures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“To put it simply, in reserved areas that are currently subject to EU law, the UK parliament regains the ability to legislate without restriction," Russell said. "In devolved areas, the Scottish Parliament does not - it will only be able to do so in future if the UK government grants permission by Order in Council.”

Russell said that the Scottish government was also concerned that the scheme in the bill for correcting devolved law was unworkable as it created a “complex division of decision-making responsibility” and empowered UK ministers to make changes in devolved policy areas without any involvement of the Scottish government or parliament.

The letter to MSPs follows a joint statement from the Scottish and Welsh first ministers, Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones, after the publication of the withdrawal bill last week. They said neither government would recommend giving legislative consent to the bill as it currently stood.

Last year the Scottish government published a paper laying out proposals for Scotland to stay in the EU single market, a move which would involve the devolution of more powers from Westminster to Scotland.  

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