The UK Supreme Court in London ruled that the UK government is required to seek parliamentary approval for the triggering of Article 50 – the instrument that would see the UK leave the EU.
The UK government has now published its Article 50 Bill. SNP MPs will seek to amend the bill to deny a second reading in Parliament, unless serious revisions are made.
Here’s what you need to know about the Supreme Court ruling and the Article 50 Bill.
The Supreme Court ruling means the UK government must get consent of the UK Parliament before triggering Article 50.
This decision 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 the terms of the UK’s negotiating position.
The Scottish Government will ensure that the Scottish Parliament has the opportunity to vote on the triggering of Article 50.
The Supreme Court has said that the UK government is not legally obliged to consult the devolved nations. It has said that the Sewel Convention – which requires the consent of the Scottish Parliament before the UK parliament passes laws in devolved areas – is not legally enforceable.
Indeed, the UK Government, in its submission to the court, went out of its way to emphasise the supremacy of the Westminster Parliament over Holyrood.
It is now crystal clear that the promises made by the UK government about the Sewel Convention, and the importance of setting it out in law, were not worth the paper they were written on.
There is, however, a clear political obligation for the UK Government to consult Scotland’s Parliament. 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.
SNP MPs will seek to work with others to stop Theresa May’s march towards a hard Brexit in its tracks.
The Supreme Court decision requires a law to be passed at Westminster before Article 50 is triggered. Following the publication of the UK Government’s Article 50 Bill, our MPs have introduced a reasoned amendment that would reject the bill based on the fact that it fails to deliver on effective consultation with devolved administrations; does not guarantee the position of EU nationals and still leaves far too many unanswered questions about the full implications of withdrawal from the single market.
The SNP MPs will introduce another 50 amendments to this legislation. The 50 amendments include a requirement that the UK government publishes a White Paper setting out its Brexit plan and to seek the unanimous agreement of the devolved governments before triggering Article 50. We will also seek to ensure that, in the event that Theresa May walks away without any deal, the UK falls back to the status quo – membership of the European Union.
The UK government must treat devolved administrations as equal partners – as they promised to do.
The Scottish Government has set out a framework to keep Scotland’s place in the European Single Market – you can read more about it here. Our Brexit plan reflects a compromise on our part – it is now up to the UK government to show similar flexibility.
However, it is becoming clearer by the day that the claims about Scotland being an equal partner are being exposed as empty words.
The First Minister has said that if the Tories cast aside Scotland’s interests and ignore our views then an independence referendum is highly likely. That remains the case.
Read Nicola Sturgeon’s response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, in full, here.
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