EXCL Former First Minister condemns SNP and Tories over Brexit talks 'stand-off'

Posted On: 
14th September 2017

A former Scottish First Minister has accused the SNP and Conservatives of failing to prepare for the impact Brexit will have north of the Border.

Former Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell
PA Images

Jack McConnell said both the UK and Scottish governments need to "take the scale of the challenge more seriously" with just 18 months to go until Britain quits the EU.

Both sides are locked in a stand-off over which powers currently overseen by Brussels - such as fisheries and agriculture - will be devolved to Holyrood from the end of March 2019.

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Lord MCConnell, who was First Minister from 2001 until 2007, will set out his concerns in a lecture at Glasgow University tonight.

Speaking to PoliticsHome ahead of the event, he said: "Brexit will be the biggest constitutional change in the UK since devolution. The UK and Scottish governments have to take the scale of that change more seriously.

"They need to stop positioning themselves for a future (Scottish independence) referendum and instead set out their positions on the devolution of powers repatriated from Brussels and the way in which they will work together in certain key areas in the future.

"From the laws that protect children to agriculture and fisheries, there are a whole series of new powers that will exist in the UK, without European jurisdiction, after Brexit."

Lord McConnell said many of those powers should "automatically" be transferred to the Scottish Parliament - something the U.K. Government has refused to guarantee.

But he said the Scottish government must also begin work on how it plans to use those powers, if it gets them.

He also said there should be monthly meetings between U.K. and Scottish ministers on how the current impasse can be broken.

He added: "More speeches and stand-offs will not resolve these issues, negotiations and attention to detail will. I urge both government to get on with the job and make it happen."