A European Union (EU) Continuity Bill has formally been introduced to the Scottish Parliament to protect devolution and prepare Scotland’s laws for Brexit.
The Bill was introduced after UK Government legislation was called “incompatible with the devolution settlement” by a cross-party Holyrood committee.
The UK legislation - the EU (Withdrawal) Bill - would mean the UK Government taking control of devolved powers such as aspects of farming and fishing, after Brexit.
The Continuity Bill will come into effect if the Scottish Parliament decides not to consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill and will prevent a “power grab.” The Scottish Parliament will be asked to consider introducing the Continuity Bill as an Emergency Bill, to ensure that it is passed before the EU (Withdrawal) Bill becomes law. Its purpose is to ensure Scotland’s laws work properly from the day the UK leaves the EU.
Michael Russell MSP, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe said:
“Both the Scottish and Welsh Governments have published EU Continuity Bills to protect devolution. The Scottish Government is opposed to leaving the EU in line with the overwhelming majority of people in Scotland. Nevertheless, we have a duty to prepare our laws for Brexit. We offered to work with the UK Government on UK-wide legislation to do this job but they insist on taking control of devolved powers without the agreement of the Scottish Parliament.
“We could never recommend giving consent to such a law and therefore must make our own preparations in devolved areas to provide certainty and protect devolution. If the UK Government drops its power grab then it may still be possible to reach agreement, in which case we would not need to proceed with the Continuity Bill. We propose taking this Bill forward on an emergency timetable to ensure it becomes law in time to make the necessary preparations.
“The Lord Advocate will make a statement in the Scottish Parliament on the Continuity Bill on 28 February. The Presiding Officer of the National Assembly of Wales has approved the Welsh Continuity Bill.
“We are determined to protect the devolution settlement that the people of Scotland voted for.”
The European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill can be found here.