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Scottish Parliament denies consent to Theresa May's Brexit legislation

Conrad Landin is in Holyrood

“SHAMBOLIC” Tory posturing means that the Brexit dispute between the Westminster and Holyrood governments could end up in the Supreme Court, Labour said yesterday.

Last night, the Scottish Parliament denied consent to Theresa May's EU withdrawal Bill in a row over the devolution of powers from the bloc. MSPs voted 93-30 in favour of rejecting the Prime Minister’s legislation.

The move will not block Westminster’s blueprint, but it means Westminster is now set to push through laws against the wishes of Holyrood for the first time. The Scottish Parliament has previously withheld consent to parts of a Tory social security reform Bill, but Westminster responded by dropping the relevant sections.

The dispute concerns whether powers returning from Brussels should automatically be devolved to the Scottish and Welsh devolved administrations, or initially be exercised by Westminster.

Though a compromise plan with devolution deadlines was accepted by Cardiff Bay, SNP ministers said it did not give enough ground.

Yesterday, the Scottish Parliament’s Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green groupings said they would support the SNP government’s motion rejecting the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

Scottish Labour Brexit spokesman Neil Findlay said: “As the party that delivered devolution, Labour will always seek to defend and strengthen it.”

He argued that the Tories’ “shambolic handling” of matters could result in the issue being resolved in the Supreme Court, where judges will rule on whether the Scottish government’s alternative Continuity Bill falls within Holyrood’s legislative competence.

Scottish Brexit Minister Mike Russell said Ms May’s administration at Westminster had “no mandate” to “undermine the devolution settlement.”

He charged that the plan, which could see some powers retained by the Westminster Parliament for up to seven years, “rides roughshod over devolution.”

But Scottish Tory MSP Adam Tomkins said: “The blame for that lies entirely with the SNP. Nicola Sturgeon has refused to compromise. It's not in Scotland's interests that the SNP prefers picking fights to making a deal.”

Mr Findlay said he was "very pleased" that MSPs had accepted his amendment to the motion, which calls for cross-party talks with Westminster and Holyrood in an attempt to end the stalemate. "We need progress and certainty for workers, businesses and public services," he added.

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