Scotland set to vote against Brexit bill

Hugh Fox
May 17, 2018

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have been accused of acting as the "midwives" for the breakup of the United Kingdom after they voted with the SNP to reject legislative consent for crucial Brexit legislation in the Scottish Parliament.

As if the divisions within the cabinet over Brexit weren't trouble enough for the Prime Minister, a vote in the Scottish parliament today has paved the way for a potential constitutional crisis.

The SNP argues that the bill in its current state could mean that powers of the Scottish parliament could be changed by the British government without the consent of the parliament for the first time ever.

Nicola Sturgeon has suggested the Scottish Parliament vote could be "overturned" if a deal is reached.

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Ms. May's legislation has already been torn apart by the House of Lords and another battle awaits her when it returns to the lower House of Commons.

"I think this is a reasonable, a sensible way forward - the Welsh government, and now the Welsh Assembly including Labour and Liberal Democrat members of the Welsh Assembly, agree with that". Overruling Holyrood, the Scottish Parliament, would be politically sensitive - particularly over such a historic move as Brexit - and would set a precedent in a constitutional setup that's only 20 years old. It also risks playing into the hands of the nationalists who are trying to build a case for another independence referendum.

"The Scottish issue is just one among many headaches", said Akash Paun, senior fellow at the Institute for Government in London.

The Scottish parliament voted on Tuesday to refuse consent to Britain's flagship Brexit legislation, increasing constitutional uncertainty over how the exit from the European Union will proceed.

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If May chooses to disregard the Scottish vote, it could fuel First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's calls for a second referendum on Scottish independence and likely strengthen her argument that Scotland should be independent. Members of the Scottish National Party, the Labor Party, the Liberal Democrats and Scottish Greens showed a rare unity, approving the proposal of the Scottish government to reject the European Union withdrawal bill. "It becomes about self-governance".

At issue is a bitter dispute between Westminster and Holyrood over powers now held by Brussels, which the SNP wants devolved after Brexit.

In the end, deputies supported the decision on disagreement with the British bill of Brexit 93 votes, against 30.

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