Stur­geon has no veto on leav­ing the EU, ad­mits Alex Sal­mond

But for­mer first min­is­ter says that sec­ond Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum is ‘very much on the cards’

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Aus­lan Cramb SCOT­TISH COR­RE­SPON­DENT

NI­COLA STUR­GEON’s threat to block Brexit fell apart yes­ter­day as her pre­de­ces­sor Alex Sal­mond ad­mit­ted the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment could not stop Bri­tain leav­ing the EU.

The for­mer first min­is­ter, who de­scribed Ms Stur­geon’s lead­er­ship since the vote on Thurs­day as “in­spir­ing”, said West­min­ster could over­ride any move by Holy­rood to deny con­sent.

Amid warn­ings that it would be “highly damaging” to Bri­tain’s democ­racy if the will of the peo­ple was over­turned, he also in­sisted she had never sug­gested she had a veto.

Ms Stur­geon said on Sun­day that with­drawal from the EU re­quired a leg­is­la­tion con­sent mo­tion from the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment be­cause it im­pacted di­rectly on its de­volved re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

Such mo­tions are rou­tinely passed by the de­volved ad­min­is­tra­tions to con­sent to West­min­ster leg­is­lat­ing on de­volved mat­ters.

Ms Stur­geon said Na­tion­al­ist MSPs would seek to block any such mo­tion, even if it meant this blocked Brexit. Ac­cord­ing to a Lords brief­ing note, Scot­land would have to agree to Brexit in or­der to re­move Euro­pean leg­is­la­tion from Scots law.

But some con­sti­tu­tional ex­perts re­jected that view, with Prof James Chalmers, of Glas­gow Uni­ver­sity, point­ing out that the Scot­land Act only says the UK Par­lia­ment will not “nor­mally” leg­is­late on de­volved is­sues with­out agree­ment. West­min­ster had al­ways had the power to over­rule any re­fusal of leg­isla­tive con­sent, he said.

David Cameron’s spokesman also said there was no re­quire­ment for the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment to ap­prove the EU with­drawal plan, as for­eign pol­icy was re­served to West­min­ster.

Ms Stur­geon is seek­ing talks with Brus­sels and mem­ber states in the com­ing days with a view to find­ing some way to se­cure Scot­land’s place in the EU while it re­mains part of the UK.

But she has re­peat­edly warned that if it emerges that the best way for Scot­land to stay in Europe is to be­come in­de­pen­dent, then that is likely to trig- ger a sec­ond in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum be­fore the end of 2018.

She claims it would be “demo­crat­i­cally un­ac­cept­able” for Scot­land to be dragged out of Europe against its will and in a de­bate in the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment today she will seek a man­date from MSPs to strengthen her hand in talks with EU in­sti­tu­tions.

Mr Sal­mond told BBC Ra­dio Scot­land that Ms Stur­geon knew “full well” that a con­sent mo­tion did not amount to a veto, adding: “The word veto never passed her lips, be­cause West­min­ster has an over­ride. So the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment can block but West­min­ster can then over­ride.”

He said Ms Stur­geon’s ne­go­ti­a­tions with EU lead­ers would cen­tre on se­cur­ing Scot­land’s place in Europe, adding: “If the an­swer to that is the only way you can do that is through in­de­pen­dence, then she brings the in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum off the ta­ble and very much on the cards.”

West­min­ster would have to ap­prove a new Scot­tish ref­er­en­dum. Mr Cameron’s spokesman said: “The rea­sons for Scot­land to be in the UK are as strong now as they were 18 months ago. What we all need to do is fo­cus on get­ting the best deal for Scot­land and the UK in th­ese ne­go­ti­a­tions and the last thing that Scot­land needs now is a di­vi­sive ref­er­en­dum.”

David Mun­dell, the Scot­tish Sec­re­tary, ac­cused Ms Stur­geon of “op­por­tunism” in an ef­fort to fur­ther her “in­de­pen­dence agenda”.

Daniel Kawczyn­ski, the Tory proBrexit MP, warned on the Today pro­gramme on Ra­dio 4 that any at­tempt to over­turn the will of the peo­ple would be “com­pletely un­ac­cept­able and highly damaging to our democ­racy”.

Ni­cola Stur­geon, the SNP leader, had said her party could block a Brexit mo­tion

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