Scots Tories urged: vote for your constituencies on Brexit Bill

Gladys Abbott
January 18, 2018

"It would replace current constraints on the National Assembly's legislative competence, which will fall away as a outcome of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, with a new set of constraints in devolved competences that would be controlled by the United Kingdom government".

'We are looking forward to working with peers as the bill enters its next stage of scrutiny in the House of Lords at the end of this month'.

As Grieve himself pointed out this week, the European Union withdrawal bill will now pass to the Lords where peers, many of whom are leading lawyers, are likely to go to tear large strips out of the legislation.

Eleven members of Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative party joined with opposition lawmakers last month to force a change ensuring that parliament will have a "meaningful vote" on the final withdrawal deal.

As MPs debated it on Tuesday, pro-EU Conservative MP Ken Clarke said he hoped and believed that the Lords would make "an enormous number of changes", adding that it was an "illusion" to think it would get an "untroubled passage". But he added his government has also been developing a continuity bill which would keep European Union legislation in force in Wales, which it would put in force if negotiations around the Brexit Bill were not satisfactory. He said a continuity bill to protect Welsh interests will be unveiled by the end of January unless changes are made.

The Scottish and Welsh governments have also warned against what they describe as a "power grab" in the bill, which would see some powers in devolved areas of policymaking now held in Brussels, taken back to London.

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"This bill has never been fit for goal", said Labour's Brexit policy chief, Keir Starmer, describing any attempt to persuade the government that the legislation needed to change as "talking to a brick wall".

This has drawn strong criticism from the SNP, who term the current legislation a "Westminster power grab", while Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has called the delay "frustrating".

Tory MP Justine Greening, who was removed as education secretary in May's latest reshuffle, warned that a Brexit that "doesn't work for young people" would not be "sustainable".

However, May has yet to set out her precise vision for the future, and while some members of her cabinet want to stay as close as possible to the single market, others favour a clean break.

Leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage has suggested he might be open to a second referendum in Britain on European Union membership, to silence critics.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker weighed in on Wednesday, saying: "Mr Tusk says our hands remain outstretched".

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