MP slams ‘nonsense’ from SNP
Accused over Brexit bill
Stirling MP Stephen Kerr is at the centre of a war of words over SNP claims that he had not read the EU (Withdrawal)Bill.
The bill will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 meaning that EU institutions can no longer make laws affecting the UK and powers which were previously shared are transferred back.
The SNP have been critical of this, saying that it fails to offer assurances that the Scottish Parliament will receive all its relevant powers when they return from the EU.
After more than 13 hours of debate the Bill passed a reading in the House of Commons by 326-290 votes, moving it to the committee stage.
During the exchanges on Monday, SNP MP Joanna Cherry asked Mr Kerr if he agreed that the law would remove legislative competence from the Scottish Parliament, including in areas of law not reserved to the UK such as agriculture and fisheries.
She then asked if he had even read the bill.
He replied: “The answer to the first question is no. It was a Conservative government who passed new powers to the Scottish Government and there is no evidence, other than in the feverish imagination of SNP members that the UK Government intend to grab back any devolved powers.”
SNP councillor Alison Laurie claimed the exchange showed Mr Kerr had not read the bill, despite voting for it.
Mr Kerr called that “inaccurate nonsense”.
Councillor Laurie said: “Stirling’s Tory MP campaigned to leave the EU at any cost last year and, despite the vast majority of his constituents voting to remain, he has betrayed the people he is supposed to represent by continually backing Theresa May’s right-wing hard Brexit.
“The situation is made all the more concerning by Mr Kerr’s admission that he hasn’t even read a bill that he was keen to speak in favour of and vote for.
“In the meantime no assurances in this bill have been offered to protecting the full nature of powers that are currently devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
“The Law Society of Scotland has said the effect of this bill would be to remove legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, including powers that are currently devolved, therefore undermining Scottish Parliamentary democracy and devolution.”
Mr Kerr said: “Another foot-in-mouth moment from the SNP. If nothing else they are consistent.
“Of course I read the Bill and I would have been delighted to confirm that had Councillor Laurie bothered to ask but, as ever, the SNP refuse to let an inconvenient truth stand in the way.
“This was a UK referendum and that UK result must be respected.
“This Bill will ensure we have a stable and functioning statute book on the day we leave the EU. We simply cannot afford the alternative.
“I also find it interesting that those who object to the so-called Henry VIII powers have been content for over 40 years with the fact that parliament has had no capacity to change or scrutinise a steady stream of EU laws and regulations.
“Ministers have said on many occasions that they expect there to be more devolved powers due to Brexit. The irony is that the SNP would immediately seek to hand them back to Brussels.
“Instead of this inaccurate nonsense they should be supporting our businesses in Stirling and across Scotland, ensuring they are in the best possible position to seize every new market opportunity presented.”