The EU Withdrawal Bill has laid bare the Westminster power grab being railroaded through parliament by the UK government, without proper parliamentary debate – showing once again a Tory government in hiding at the first sign of scrutiny.
Despite repeated promises before and after the referendum that new powers would come to the Scottish Parliament, the Bill as introduced commits to no new powers being devolved – and also effectively means that the Scottish Parliament cannot legislate on repatriated laws in EU areas without the permission of the UK government.
The Bill as it stands does nothing to protect the interests of Scotland and the other devolved administrations – and it is a final confirmation of a Westminster power grab that will side-line and undermine the devolved governments.
That is why the we in the SNP will seek to work with other parties to oppose the Bill proceeding in its current form, alongside the worrying fact that it has been over a year since the EU referendum and the UK government has failed to set out a single sheet of paper, never mind a document, on the economic analysis of the implications of the UK withdrawing from the Single Market, as well as a disastrous no deal scenario.
Before the EU referendum, the Leave campaign repeatedly said that significant new powers would automatically come to the Scottish Parliament – and the Scottish Secretary David Mundell and others repeatedly assured us since the vote that more powers will be coming to the Scottish Parliament – so where are they?
Once again, David Mundell has shown himself to be the Cabinet’s man in Scotland, rather than Scotland’s man in the Cabinet.
Theresa May’s warm words and calls for compromise over the UK’s plans for leaving the EU were at first welcome, however in just a matter of days those words have revealed themselves to be nothing short of hollow rhetoric as the UK government stumbles at its own first hurdle.
On the economy, on jobs, businesses and opportunities for young people – whether we like it or not the UK leaving the EU will impact us all. That is why the SNP will continue to push for the Bill to be amended to ensure it properly accounts for Scotland’s distinct interests as the UK leaves the EU.
The Single Market is absolutely vital to Scotland’s economy, jobs and our living standards – and the UK government must change course from the extreme Brexit that it is pursuing.
Until the UK government meaningfully engages with the devolved administrations and publishes a detailed economic analysis on the impact over leaving the single market or a no deal scenario will have, then the SNP has no choice but to oppose a second reading of the Bill in order to get answers from a government that has sought to evade scrutiny at every opportunity.
Stephen Gethins is SNP Westminster Spokesperson on International Affairs and Europe.