Westminster power grab: explained

Boris Johnson’s government says it wants to take back control from the EU. Now it’s clear it wants to take back control from Scotland too.

The Tories’ UK Internal Market Bill not only breaks international law – it’s also a shameless grab on Scotland’s democratic powers and an assault on devolution.

The Scottish Parliament is set to refuse consent for this Bill, with Constitution Secretary Michael Russell saying, “we could never recommend the Parliament agrees that its powers should be eroded so fundamentally.”

Here’s what you need to know.

An all-out Westminster power grab on Scotland’s democracy

In 2014, the Better Together parties promised that Scotland’s powers would never be altered without the express consent of Holyrood.

Now, these promises are shattered, as the Tories’ Internal Market Bill fundamentally undermines the devolution settlement that Scotland overwhelmingly voted for in 1997.

The Bill that is currently going through the UK Parliament will put in place an unelected and unaccountable Westminster body with the ability to overrule the Scottish Parliament’s decisions.

This is exactly what the Internal Market Bill aims to do – take power from Scotland and hand it to Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings at Westminster.

It uses Brexit – which Scotland overwhelmingly rejected – to justify it

Not only does the Bill flagrantly undermine devolution, but it uses Brexit – which has been roundly rejected by the Scottish Parliament and the people of Scotland at the ballot box – as a justification for doing so.

Having dragged Scotland out of the EU and the single market of 450 million people, the Internal Market Bill continues the long-running pattern of Tory contempt for Scotland.

Organisations from key sectors across Scotland clearly oppose it

Organisations across Scotland – in business, industry, farming, teaching, and the environment – have made clear that the Internal Market Bill is unacceptable.

NFU Scotland said the proposals “pose a significant threat to devolution”, Scottish Environment Link said the plans “force Scotland to follow the lowest common denominator”, while the Scottish Council for Development and Industry called the plans “detrimental to Scottish businesses and consumers”.

A race to the bottom in consumer and environmental standards

The Tories have been claiming that the Bill is designed to protect businesses, consumers and Scottish jobs – claims that have been exposed by independent fact-checkers as false.

Make no mistake, these proposals are bad for Scottish businesses by threatening to undercut the world-famous quality of Scottish food and drink – on which thousands of jobs depend – in a race to the bottom just to satisfy the trade demands of Donald Trump.

For example, if the Scottish Parliament legislated to ban the sale of chlorinated chicken as a response to a Tory-Trump trade deal, the proposals under this Bill would enable the UK government to overrule the decision taken by the democratically elected Scottish Parliament.

It empowers companies with deep pockets while threatening our public services

The Internal Market Bill means that companies with deep pockets will be more likely to challenge any Scottish Parliament law that threatens to undermine their vested interests.

For example, private water companies operating in England may be able to gain “guaranteed right to trade in Scotland” under this Bill – even when the Scottish Parliament rejects that.

When the Tories say the Bill is “good for business”, they mean private health companies and the business of Donald Trump – who clearly said that the NHS is “on the table” in a post-Brexit trade deal.

It breaks international law – even senior Tories admit it

Senior Tory Minister Brandon Lewis has openly admitted that their Internal Market Bill breaks international law.

This has sparked a series of explosive resignations at the top of the UK Government, including the Advocate General in Scotland, Lord Keen, and the government’s most senior lawyer, Jonathan Jones.

Scottish Tories endorse this attack on Scotland’s democracy, as Holyrood is set to refuse consent for the Bill

In stark contrast to the Scottish Tories, who voted to endorse a Westminster power grab, the SNP at Westminster have been leading the efforts to defend devolution and protect Scotland’s democracy.

And while the team of SNP MPs have been exposing this damaging and dangerous Bill, Labour have again dodged responsibility by abstaining on key amendments to protect Scotland’s Parliament.

The Scottish Parliament is highly likely to reject this Bill when it comes to a vote, while the Scottish Tories continue peddling false claims and cheerleading Boris Johnson’s power grab.

It’s clearer than ever that even when the very foundations of Scotland’s democracy are on the line, the Scottish Tories will always put Boris Johnson’s interests first.

Only independence will properly protect the Scottish Parliament

No Westminster party can ever credibly claim that Scotland is an “equal partner” in a “family of nations”.

With a Tory government intent on ignoring Scotland and trashing the foundations of devolution, independence is the best way of uphold Scotland’s democracy.

For the first time in history, independence is now backed by a consistent majority – and Scotland will have the choice of becoming an independent country.

Scotland stands at a crossroads and it’s up to us to make it happen. Get involved at yes.scot to join our path to a better future with independence.