Great Repeal Bill: Putting the Scottish parliament in its place

The whole Brexit process has illuminated Scotland’s lack of sovereignty.

A referendum was held by a political party we consistently reject at the ballot box. The result of the referendum was the opposite of what we wanted yet we are being forced to live with the consequences.

However, things are about to get a whole lot worse in that respect.

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Firstly, the Scotland Act will need to be amended as the Scotland Act stipulates that laws made by the Scottish Parliament must be in line with EU law.

That change probably makes sense but it isn’t the only thing that Westminster is likely to change about the Scotland Act.

Some competencies that are currently controlled by the EU are currently set to repatriate to Scotland post Brexit. These include control over agriculture, fishing within Scottish waters, public procurement and environmental law. In contradiction to what we were being told by the Brexiteers in the run up to the EU referendum, the UK government wants to take some or all of those competencies to Westminster after we leave the EU.

Scotland doesn’t want Brexit at all but, failing a Yes vote in a second referendum, we will have no choice but to try to make the best of it.

If we are forced out it is unlikely that the Scottish parliament will want any competencies to be taken by Westminster. The Sewel convention states that the UK government should ‘normally’ seek the consent of the Scottish parliament before making changes to Scottish law. However, we now know via the Supreme Court that the Sewel convention is legally toothless.

So, if Scotland resists we may find ourselves in a position in which the UK government just changes the Scotland Act unilaterally. This may be legal but could be politically explosive and should annoy anyone that cares about the rights of the Scottish Parliament.

Then we have the Great Repeal Bill which is the mechanism designed to repatriate EU law to the UK. The bill has two main stages.

The first involves primary legislation that will go through the normal parliamentary process. Essentially, at the point of Brexit all EU law that is on the UK statute books will become UK law. That part isn’t particularly controversial.

It is the second part of the bill that is more terrifying for those who believe Scotland should be sovereign.

Once EU law becomes UK law, large swathes of it will have to be changed in order for it to work. For instance EU law refers to EU institutions which we will no longer be using. The exact nature of our relationship with Europe will evolve during the negotiations and this will have to be reflected in law. Furthermore, the UK government will want to make all sorts of ideological and policy based changes to EU laws as they are repatriated.

Problem is they are going to do so using so called Henry The 8th Clauses.

This means that the primary legislation can be altered by secondary legislation. This secondary legislation doesn’t need to go through parliament. So, essentially, the UK government can potentially change Scottish laws without scrutiny at Westminster and without consulting Holyrood.

So, Brexit has exposed a situation in which the UK government can take competencies from the Scottish Government without consultation. They can also alter what laws remain controlled by Holyrood without any oversight in Westminster or input from the Scottish government.

So much for a partnership of equals.

No doubt the Scottish government will make a lot of noise about such a situation. They may even take legal action but under the current law the UK’s actions are most likely by the book.

I can’t think of many countries that would accept this lack of Sovereignty. The big question is, will enough people in Scotland care about such an outrage enough to spur them into voting for independence? This solution after-all is the only action that will prevent Scottish law being altered without the consent of Scotland.

If the majority are happy with this clear lack of control over the fate of their own country, then there wouldn’t be much point having independence anyway in my opinion.

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Bobby Hainey

Joint founder of Autonomyscotland. In my spare time I enjoy Road Cycling, Munro bagging and beer.

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7 Comments on "Great Repeal Bill: Putting the Scottish parliament in its place"

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Dr J N Balfour-McKie
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London has a population over twice that of Scotland and voted to remain in the EU. Northern Ireland also voted to remain. What are those millions expected to do? Shall they declare Independence like the SNP and the Greens in Edinburgh? Using this argument to push a rudimentary SNP independence agenda that equates remain and nationalism might fool the odd few pre-schoolers but it doesn’t wash with anyone with half a brain. If you argue sovereignty then has the First Minister had the wonderful Papal gifts of the Scottish Regalia in Edinburgh Castle dusted down for her coronation? It’s ludicrous,… Read more »
Karen Ross
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Well said – the SNP have one agenda and are totally failing in their day job – I think they will lose their second referendum by a larger majority than before once Brexit terms are known – my countryman are canny! Just hope the Scots eventually get a First Minister who is capable of putting the country’s interests first rather than their personal ambition. The thought of SNP having more control is a scary thought, and many are now starting to see through them.

Chris Bienkowski
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“Just hope the Scots eventually get a First Minister who is capable of putting the country’s interests first rather than their personal ambition “So that excludes all leaders of the unionist parties who put London’s interests and their own careers above the interest of Scotland – rape test anyone.

Finnmacollie
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Chris, I suspect they are just a couple of Mail or Express reading tories who have learned the art of self loathing – or maybe just paid trolls.
I seriously question the level of education of someone who purports to be a Dr. and cannot distinguish the difference between a country and a city. Bobby’s blog contains not one mention of the SNP or the First Minister yet they use it as an excuse to sneer at both.
Best ignored.

cee bee
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define what scary thoughts of snp having more control actually are please , and how they will inpact on you personally . in contrast the torys ARE scary and have impacted on people personally by way of taking away benefits to disabled sick and young causing deaths . endless litany how dare you imply that snp having more control is scary the have done more for scotland in the last ten years than any other party together . the scaryness is that the tory goverment are scared as they will loose the endless revenues that go over the border only… Read more »
Mark Lewis
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Our you could perhaps recognise the fact that the Westminster Parliament ISNT the English Parliament and that we don’t even have one down here in the south. We are at the mercy of the Westminster Parliament with no English Parliament to protect us from any laws that we may not agree with. Scottish MPs get to vote on Scottish matters and English matters, English can only vote on English matters… Along with the rest of the uk.

Craig Lewis
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EVEL?

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