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Scotland refuses consent on Brexit bill

May 16, 2018

The Scottish Parliament has voted to deny consent for the EU Withdrawal Bill, which is currently going through national parliament in London. The decision could spark a constitutional crisis between Scotland and the UK.

Schottland Parlament Abstimmung Brexit Gesetz
Image: picture-alliance/empics/A. Milligan

The Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh passed a motion on Tuesday by a vote of 93-30 to refuse consent for the European Union Withdrawal Bill.

The bill is intended to implement Brexit, causing the UK to cut political, financial and legal ties with the EU. The legislation is currently on the floor of the UK parliament in London.

Read more: Brexit Diaries 35: Theresa May begs for the UK's trust

"The Scottish parliament has spoken loudly and clearly — it's now up to the UK government to respect that vote and ditch their power-grab," SNP lawmaker Ash Denham said in a statement.

The Scottish parliament, run by the Scottish National Party (SNP), does not have veto power over the Brexit bill. However, their refusal to give consent sets up an unprecedented constitutional clash between Edinburgh and Westminster and complicates UK Prime Minister Teresa May's Brexit plan.

The SNP said it would be "outrageous" for the British government to impose the bill on Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister and leader of the SNP, said Britain was headed towards "uncharted constitutional territory."

The UK voted as a whole to leave the EU in June 2016, but Scotland voted to remain. 

Read more: Is the Scottish National Party 'on the sidelines' of politics?

Too much power to London

The dispute revolves around a clause in the Withdrawal bill that the SNP claims limits the lawmaking ability of the Scottish Parliament by letting London seize too many powers being returned from Brussels.

Welsh and Scottish politicians rejected a proposal last year by Britain that devolved powers returning from the EU after Brexit should initially pass through the national parliament.

The SNP argues that the bill in its current state could mean that powers of the Scottish parliament could be changed by the British government without the consent of the parliament for the first time ever.

The Westminster government has accused Scottish opponents of "nit-picking" and has insisted it is trying to come up with a common framework throughout the country when Brussels regulations are handed over following Brexit.

Britain: Out of the EU, out with Europeans?

dv (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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