Scottish government plans to withhold consent for Brexit bill

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The Scottish goverment has recommended that consent from Holyrood for the new Brexit deal should be withheld.

SNP MP Michael Russell has lodged a memorandum under the Withdrawal Agreement Bill saying that his government does not intend to submit a key motion signalling Scotland's approval.

At the same time, SNPS MPs in Westminster have tabled an amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill which turns down a second reading of the bill if Scottish parliament refuses its consent.

Under the devolution settlement, a legislative consent motion (LCM), also known as a Sewel motion, must be lodged in the devolved parliaments when Westminster is looking to pass a law on a matter for which Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland has power.

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A refusal to put a LCM forward does not currently give devolved governments a veto, however, unless the new amendment is approved in Westminster.

The Scottish government is hurriedly trying to recall its parliament to Holyrood so that it can vote on the LCM.

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The memorandum says: "The Scottish government recommends that the Scottish parliament should not consent to any part of the bill, and should indicate its opposition to the UK's withdrawal from the EU and to the Withdrawal Agreement. The Scottish Government does not therefore intend to lodge a legislative consent motion in relation to the bill."

Russell described the attempts of the UK government to pass its new Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) as "irresponsible and disrespectful" to the devolved administrations.

The memorandum states: "The Scottish government cannot support a bill that would withdraw Scotland, as part of the UK, from the EU," saying that it will do "significant damage" to Scotland.

It also objected to the rushed manner in which the bill is being put through Westminster, offering "extremely limited opportunity" for both public and parliamentary scrutiny.

MORE: MPs accuse government of rushing through landmark Brexit billThe decision to recall parliament in order to call a vote on the LCM question can only be made by presiding officer Ken Macintosh, who is yet to decide on the matter.

Scottish Conservatives' constitution spokesperson Adam Tomkins accused the Scottish government of calculating "which course of action is most likely to drive up grievance and resentment, then acted accordingly".

He added: "This isn't an administration serious about making Brexit work for the people of Scotland.

"It wants to do the opposite and is now openly coveting a no-deal scenario because it thinks that will boost support for separation.

"As a government, the SNP's behaviour has been abhorrent, and is an insult to the people it is meant to be governing."

The Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford also wrote to the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, urging EU leaders to consider extending the Brexit deadline long enough for a second referendum.

Scottish and Welsh leaders write to EU to push for a proper Brexit extension

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