Blow for Nicola Sturgeon as Holyrood denied a veto on Brexit

Posted On: 
24th January 2017

Holyrood was today denied a veto on Brexit by a Supreme Court judgement that serves a massive blow to Nicola Sturgeon.

Nicola Sturgeon had hoped Holyrood would be given a say on Brexit.
PA Images

The judges ruled that ministers must consult MPs before invoking Article 50 but said the devolved administrations cannot hold their own binding votes.

Scottish First Minister Ms Sturgeon had been agitating for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to each have a vote on Brexit in a bid to prevent Britain being pulled out of the EU single market.

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She has also warned that another Scottish independence vote is "highly likely" if the Government opts for a so-called hard Brexit.

But the SNP came out fighting this morning with a vow to table 50 “serious and substantive” amendments to the legislation Theresa May will now be forced to bring forward.

They include a demand for a white paper before Article 50 is invoked and an assurance through the Joint Ministerial Committee - set up to hear the the devolved administrations concerns about Brexit - that the assemblies would not be forgotten.


SNP International Affairs spokesperson Alex Salmond said the Prime Minister and her “hard Brexit brigade” must treat the devolved administrations “as equal partners”.

“We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision and hope that their ruling brings this Tory government back to the reality that they cannot simply bypass elected Parliamentarians to fulfil their role in carrying out due and proper scrutiny of one of the biggest decisions facing the UK,” he said.

"The Prime Minister and her hard Brexit brigade must treat devolved administrations as equal partners - as indeed she promised to do.

“For over six months the concerns surrounding a hard Tory Brexit have been echoing throughout the land and yet the Prime Minister has not listened.

“If Theresa May is intent on being true to her word that Scotland and the other devolved administrations are equal partners in this process, then now is the time to show it.

“Now is the time to sit with the Joint Ministerial Committee and not just casually acknowledge, but constructively engage. Consultation must mean consultation.

“Our amendments will address the very serious concerns facing the UK and the very real issues that the UK government has, thus far, avoided."


In a landmark moment in the Brexit process the justices ruled unanimously that the devolved parliaments in Holyrood, Cardiff and Stormont would not get binding votes on Article 50.  

President of the Supreme Court Lord Neuberger said: "The court unanimously rules that UK ministers are not legally compelled to consult the devolved legislatures before triggering Article 50... relations with the EU are a matter for the UK Government.”


Asked why there should be as many as 50 amendments to the legislation, SNP Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins told the BBC: “The EU has a significant impact on jobs.

“I think about the university jobs in my own constituency, you think about the food and drink sector, you think about the single market. 

"These are threatened by actions, now, if the Government was confident in what it’s doing, it wouldn’t be afraid of parliamentary scrutiny. 

"So I’m not sure why the Government is so afraid to have proper parliamentary scrutiny over some actions that will have an impact on each and every one of us in each part of the United Kingdom.”

Meanwhile SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson tweeted that it was “bad” news the Scottish government had been denied as say on triggering Article 50.

In her column for the Daily Record yesterday, Ms Sturgeon vowed to hold a vote at Holyrood regardless of its legal status.

“No matter what the court decides, I want to make this crystal clear – I intend to make sure the Scottish Parliament has the chance to vote on the question of triggering Article 50," she said.

“And if the UK Government don’t start showing Scotland some respect, I’ll make sure that people across Scotland have the chance to choose our own future, before the Tories drag us off an economic cliff edge.”