Scottish parliament votes to reject Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal

PUBLISHED: 08:24 09 January 2020 | UPDATED: 08:24 09 January 2020

The Union flag, Saltire and the European Union flag fly alongside each other outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.

The Union flag, Saltire and the European Union flag fly alongside each other outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.

The Scottish parliament has rejected Boris Johnson’s proposals for taking the UK out of the EU.

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Having urged MSPs to vote to refuse consent to the bill, Mike Russell, Scotland's constitutional relations secretary, described the legislation as "uniquely offensive to Scottish democracy".

They voted to reject Boris Johnson's Withdrawal Agreement Bill by votes to 92 votes to 29.

"This is a sad moment in the history of Scotland and the United Kingdom," he said.

"A moment at odds with the outward-looking and internationalist values so many of us right across the UK hold dear.

"The Withdrawal Agreement Bill is the vehicle for implementing in domestic law this disastrous process.

"The Withdrawal Agreement which is contained in it and amplified by it is deeply damaging to the UK as the Scottish government has set out in detail before.

"But it is particularly bad for Scotland, as all the evidence shows, and it is uniquely offensive to Scottish democracy.

"For England and Wales voted to leave and are leaving. Northern Ireland will have its own arrangements for a closer alignment and the right to decide their own future.

"Scotland, alone of the four nations, voted remain but is being forced to leave with no special arrangements or say over its future relationship with the European Union."

Russell said the Withdrawal Agreement Bill "goes contrary to the wishes of the majority of people in Scotland".

He added: "We cannot approve it because there has been no attempt by the UK to involve us in any sort of mutually agreeable process, indeed the reverse has been the case for the last three and a half years.

"And we cannot approve it because it alters and diminishes the basic rights of so many, including some of our most vulnerable fellow human beings."

Under the devolution agreement, legislative consent is required for issues affecting devolved policy areas.

In practice, however, the UK government is able to still proceed against the will of the Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish administrations.

Scottish Tory constitutional spokesman Adam Tomkins said the Tories would finally deliver Brexit after securing a majority of MPs at Westminster in last month's general election.

"The bill will pass, the Withdrawal Agreement will take effect and this United Kingdom will at last leave the European Union at the end of this month," he said.

"Finally it will all be over, Brexit will be sorted because a majority Conservative government will deliver and give effect to the decision that the British people made more than three long years ago that we should leave.

"Those are the facts and all the rest is just noise."

Scottish Labour's Alex Rowley said his party would be backing the Scottish government in withholding consent for the bill.

He said: "On such a crucial issue as the future of our nation and its relationship with Europe and the rest of the world, Scotland's parliament and Scotland's government must have a key role in that negotiation process."

Rowley added: "We also have to be honest and make clear that, while Brexit will now happen, it will not be over with for a very, very long time".

A UK government spokesman said they were "disappointed" by the vote in the Scottish parliament.

He said: "It is clear that the Scottish government are hijacking this process in order to oppose Brexit, which was never the intention of the devolution settlement.

"The prime minister has delivered a great deal that works for the whole of the UK, giving us the certainty we need to leave the EU and move on together."

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