Government triggers constitutional crisis with vow to over-rule Holyrood over Brexit bill

Posted On: 
15th May 2018

A senior Cabinet minister has vowed to over-rule the Scottish Parliament after it voted to reject the Government's flagship Brexit bill - sparking a potential constitutional crisis.

The UK government is set to over-rule Holyrood for the first time.
Credit: 
PA Images

MSPs voted 93-30 not to give legislative content to the EU Withdrawal Bill, which the Government says is essential to prevent legal chaos on day one of Brexit.

The Scottish government has accused the Conservatives of a "power grab" because it will mean some areas which are currently devolved will initially come under Westminster control when they are returned from Brussels.

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Scottish Brexit minister Mike Russell said: "The Scottish Parliament has now said overwhelmingly that this attempt to undermine devolution is unacceptable.

"The UK government cannot ignore the reality of devolution or try to drown out what this Parliament says. They cannot pretend that no motion has been passed."

But Scottish Secretary David Mundell insisted the Holyrood vote will not derail the Withdrawal Bill.

He told the BBC: "It's the first time it has happened but it was envisaged in the devolution settlement that there might be circumstances where consent wouldn't be given, and that circumstance would permit the Westminster government to proceed with legislation on that basis and that is what we intend to do because the bill is already in the system.

"There will be an opportunity for further debate and discussion in parliament, but I also hope there will be the opportunity for debate and discussion between the two governments.

"I still think we can resolve this issue and that remains my objective."

Scottish Labour voted with the SNP and the party's Brexit spokesman Neil Findlay said: "As the party that delivered devolution Labour will always seek to defend and strengthen it – and that is why we could not vote to give consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill at this time. 

"The Tories' shambolic handling of this key area for Scotland is pushing the case towards the Supreme Court. The people of Scotland want this mess fixed and even after this vote there is still time to do that.

"It is welcome that both the UK and Scottish government have agreed to cross-party talks to resolve this deadlock and this must begin urgently.

“Labour stands ready to work with other parties to find a solution."