The EU (Withdrawal) Bill, the ‘Repeal Bill’, sets out the legal framework for the UK leaving the EU. It is now being debated in the House of Commons as the UK government attempts to railroad it through parliament - here’s everything you need to know.
🔍 What’s happening at Westminster?
A majority in the House of Commons voted to agree the general principles of the EU Withdrawal Bill back in September. This was opposed by all Scottish MPs, except the Tories.
The detail of the Bill is now being debated line-by-line. MPs are also putting forward amendments to the Bill. SNP MPs have tabled amendments to protect our place in the Single Market; limit Tory Ministers powers to dilute workers’ rights; and to ensure that the UK does not crash out of the EU with no deal.
Tory and Labour MPs joined together to reject the place of devolved administrations within the Brexit process, voting down amendments which would have ensured that the devolved administrations has a vote on Britain's exit from the European Union.
Tory MPs also rejected the chance to ensure that post-Brexit both the EU Fundamental Charter of Rights and other rights in areas such as such as consumer rights, equality protections and environmental standards, kept pace with international standards. Instead they voted down the SNP amendments, illustrating the Tories desire to use Brexit as an excuse for the roll back of rights.
🔍 What will the Scottish Parliament do? Can it veto the Bill?
The First Minister has lodged a ‘Legislative Consent Memorandum’ at Holyrood, setting out why the Scottish Government believes the Scottish Parliament should withhold its consent for the Bill.
The Scottish Parliament has no power to veto Brexit. While we continue to believe that Scotland should remain part of the European Union, we must prepare responsibly for whatever may transpire.
🔍 How is the SNP working with others to amend the Bill?
Nicola Sturgeon and the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, issued a joint statement in August, calling on the UK government to respect the devolution settlement. Read the statement here.
The First Minister of Wales has now also recommended to the Welsh Assembly that it does not give consent to the Bill.
Scottish Government amendments – proposed jointly with the Welsh Government – would:
ensure EU powers in devolved policy areas go back to devolved Parliaments;
ensure Tory Ministers can’t change the devolution settlement unilaterally;
require Scottish Government agreement before changes to current EU laws are made in devolved areas; and
ensure Scottish Ministers do not have additional restrictions placed on them compared to Tory Ministers.
🔍 Why does the SNP oppose the EU (Withdrawal) Bill?
The devolution settlement is based on the principle that everything is devolved to the Scottish Parliament unless it is reserved to Westminster.
This bill turns that principle on its head – all powers exercised at EU level, whether they are devolved or not, will be taken by the UK Government. That’s why the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales have called the bill a power grab.
The Tory Repeal Bill is a naked power grab that takes power away from the Scottish Parliament. Get the facts: https://t.co/O1lHXsJH8R pic.twitter.com/0NfxIJvngz
— The SNP (@theSNP) September 7, 2017
The UK government has itself identified over 100 policy areas that this power grab could cover, including powers over farming support, fisheries, fracking, GM crops, railway franchising, cooperation between Scotland’s justice system and EU counterparts, and environmental regulations.
The UK government must now make the necessary amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill to respect the devolution settlement.
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such as consumer rights, equality protections and environmental standards.