The Scottish Government welcomes the Supreme Court’s ruling that Article 50 cannot be triggered without an Act of Parliament. It is a damning indictment of a UK Government that believed it could press on towards a hard Brexit with no regard to Parliament whatsoever.
It is vital that the Westminster Parliament is now given the fullest possible opportunity to debate and decide upon the triggering of Article 50 and also the terms of the UK’s negotiating position. SNP MPs will seek to work with others across the House of Commons to stop the march towards a hard Brexit in its tracks.
We are obviously disappointed with the Supreme Court’s ruling in respect of the devolved administrations and the legal enforceability of the Sewel Convention.
It is now crystal clear that the promises made to Scotland by the UK Government about the Sewel Convention and the importance of embedding it in statute were not worth the paper they were written on.
Although the court has concluded that the UK Government is not legally obliged to consult the devolved administrations, there remains a clear political obligation to do so. Indeed, the court itself notes the importance of Sewel as a political convention.
The Scottish Government will bring forward a Legislative Consent Motion and ensure that the Scottish Parliament has the opportunity to vote on whether or not it consents to the triggering of Article 50.
We will also use the meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee next week to continue to press for the sensible, compromise outcomes set out in the paper we published in December.
However, it is becoming clearer by the day that Scotland’s voice is simply not being heard or listened to within the UK. The claims about Scotland being an equal partner are being exposed as nothing more than empty rhetoric and the very foundations of the devolution settlement that are supposed to protect our interests – such as the statutory embedding of the Sewel Convention – are being shown to be worthless.
This raises fundamental issues above and beyond that of EU membership. Is Scotland content for our future to be dictated by an increasingly right-wing Westminster Government with just one MP here – or is it better that we take our future into our own hands? It is becoming ever clearer that this is a choice that Scotland must make.