The Supreme Court has today confirmed that the Scottish Parliament was entitled to pass its own legislation to prepare Scotland's laws for Brexit.
In its judgement, published last Thursday, the Supreme Court rejected the UK Government's claim that it was outwith the powers of MSPs to make such preparations when they approved the UK Withdrawal from the EU (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill.
The Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, Michael Russell MSP, said parts of the Bill have been found now to be outside the Scottish Parliament's competence only because, in an 'act of constitutional vandalism', the UK Tory Government took steps which cut Holyrood's powers without its consent after MSPs approved the new law.
Mr Russell said:
"The Scottish Government's position has been vindicated by the Supreme Court judgement, which confirms that the Scottish Parliament had the competence to prepare its own laws for Brexit when the Continuity Bill was passed.
"Worryingly, parts of the Bill have been thwarted as a result of steps taken by the UK Government. For the first time ever, UK Law Officers delayed an act of the Scottish Parliament from becoming law by referring it to the Supreme Court.
"Then the UK Government, for the first time ever, invited the UK Parliament to pass a Bill which they knew would cut the powers of the Scottish Parliament without its consent. The UK Government changed the rules of the game midway through the match.
"We will now reflect on this judgement and discuss with other parties before coming back to Parliament to set out the best way forward."
Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
“We never doubted that the Supreme Court would confirm the competency of the Scottish Parliament to pass the Continuity Bill, which we did in March.
“It can’t be overstated how crucial it is to understand that any issues relating to enactment of the bill, are a direct consequence of new limits which the UK EU (Withdrawal) Act placed on the Scottish Parliament's powers three months later, in June. Amongst the provisions we now cannot implement are some which would preserve the Charter of Fundamental Rights and which would give Scottish Ministers power to deal with deficiencies on the law on withdrawal from the EU.
"This judgement makes clear MSPs were perfectly entitled to prepare Scotland's laws for Brexit at the time this Bill was passed and the UK Tory Government's arguments have been clearly rejected on this occasion. However, this whole episode further illustrates that as long as Scotland is in this unequal union, we will be dependent on what the Tories decide we can and cannot do. The fact they have started using foul play to undermine the Scottish Parliament is extremely disconcerting, and I expect more of this.
“Control over our own affairs through independence is the only way to protect the interests of Scotland and everyone who lives here.”