Scottish Parliament to oppose Brexit bill

Scottish Parliament to oppose Brexit bill

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A majority of MSPs are expected to oppose the UK government triggering Article 50, but the vote will be largely symbolic

The Scottish Parliament is expected to formally oppose the UK government starting the Brexit process when MSPs vote on the issue later.

The Supreme Court ruled last month that there was no legal need for Holyrood to give its consent to the triggering of Article 50.

But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would let MSPs have a say in what will be a largely symbolic vote.

The SNP tried to block the UK government’s Brexit bill last week.

Only one of Scotland’s 59 MPs – Scottish Secretary David Mundell – supported the bill, but it ultimately passed its first parliamentary hurdle by 498 votes to 114.

Agreed UK position

The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill returned to the Commons on Monday, when MPs began detailed scrutiny of the legislation.

The Scottish government has now urged MSPs to back a motion in the Scottish Parliament stating that the bill should not proceed.

The motion, lodged by Brexit minister Michael Russell, says the UK government has failed to properly consult the devolved administrations on an agreed UK position on Brexit.

It also says the government has refused to give a guarantee on the position of EU nationals in the UK, and has failed to answer a range of questions regarding the full implications of withdrawal from the single market.

Speaking last week, Mr Russell said he believed Holyrood would use the vote to send a “resounding message” that Scotland’s future is in Europe.

And Ms Sturgeon has insisted that the vote will be “one of the most significant in the history” of devolution – although she accepts that MSPs cannot veto the UK government’s plans.

Scottish Labour has said it will vote against triggering Article 50, but will also will table a motion calling on the SNP not to use Brexit as an excuse for a second independence referendum.

Leader Kezia Dugdale has said that although Scottish Labour accepts the UK is leaving the European Union, it does not accept the terms currently being proposed by Prime Minister Theresa May.

The move puts Ms Dugdale at odds with UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is facing a revolt by pro-Remain MPs – including the party’s only Scottish MP Ian Murray – who are defying his leadership to vote against the bill at Westminster.

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The prime minister has urged MPs to respect the outcome of the EU referendum and last week’s parliamentary vote on the Brexit bill

Ms Dugdale said: “While the bill to leave the EU is still progressing through the House of Commons, Labour in Holyrood will send a clear message that we do not support a hard Brexit.

“The UK is leaving the European Union, but there is no reason why Scottish Labour and the Scottish Parliament should not give a voice to the wishes of the vast majority of Scottish people.”

The Scottish Greens and Liberal Democrats will also vote against triggering Article 50, but Scottish Conservative MSPs are expected to oppose the Scottish government motion.

‘Same old trap’

The party’s chief whip, John Lamont, said the SNP wanted to use the debate to “sow division and grievance in order to further its unwanted plan for a second independence referendum”.

He added: “The referendum was held, parliament has had its say, and we should now respect them both by moving to trigger Article 50.

“It is disappointing that Scottish Labour has fallen into the same old trap and failed to stand up to the same old Nationalist stunts. The Scottish Conservatives will have no truck with them.”

A UK government spokesman said Holyrood was free to debate any issue it chooses, and that it would “continue our engagement with the Scottish government and with people and groups across Scotland as we prepare to leave the EU to secure the best deal for Scotland and the UK.”

Speaking in the Commons on Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May warned MPs not to “obstruct” the will of UK voters by changing the Brexit bill.

She said: “The message is clear to all – this House has spoken and now is not the time to obstruct the democratically expressed wishes of the British people.

“It is time to get on with leaving the European Union and building an independent, self-governing, global Britain.”

Source: BBC – UK News

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