MSPs vote against withdrawal agreement and no-deal scenario
Holyrood has formally voted against both Theresa May’s Brexit deal and the prospect of quitting the European Union with no deal in place.
MSPs voted by 92 to 29 for a motion which said both these options “would be damaging for Scotland and the nations and regions of the UK as a whole”.
As a result they called for the Brexit deal to be rejected when it is voted on at Westminster on December 11 and for “a better alternative be taken forward”.
The motion which was passed had been drawn up by the SNP, Labour, the Scottish Greens and the Liberal Democrats – with Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell describing it as a “unique collaboration”.
A f t e r i t w a s overwhelmingly passed Mr Russell said: “The Scottish Parliament came together to say we cannot let this happen, and the UK Government must now respect today’s decisive vote.
“The UK Government’s Brexit deal will make Scotland poorer and they must now listen and act on the Scottish Parliament’s overwhelming decision to reject it.”
Only Conservative MSPs at Holyrood voted against the motion, with SNP MSP Bruce Crawford, convener of the Parliament’s Constitution Committee, saying afterwards the cross-party stance by MSPs demanded a new approach from the PM.
Mr Crawford added: “With the Scottish Parliament now overwhelmingly against the false choice of Theresa May’s deal or no deal, it is time for the UK government to listen.
“Theresa May’s deal is at this point little more than a hypothetical exercise, with all sides of the House of Commons determined to defeat it on Tuesday.
“The clock is ticking. It’s time for a new approach and to look at the real alternatives – whether that be a second referendum giving Scotland the opportunity to remain in the EU, or the compromise proposal of staying in the single market that the Scottish Government unveiled two years ago.” Attorney-General Geoffrey Cox’s legal “note” to the Prime Minister on the Northern Ireland backstop runs to 33 paragraphs on six pages.
Here are some of the key passages from Tuesday’s “full and final” opinion, which relates to the conditions and legal context of the Northern Ireland backstop, which would come into effect if the UK failed to agree a withdrawal agreement with the EU.
Paragraph 8: “The implication of NI remaining in the EU Single Market for goods, while GB is not, is that for regulatory purposes GB is essentially treated as a third country by NI for goods passing from GB into NI.
“This means regulatory checks would have to take place between NI and GB”.
Paragraph 16: “It is difficult to conclude otherwise than that the protocol is intended to subsist even when negotiations have clearly broken down.”
Paragraph 26: “Article 19 does not expressly state that the review mechanism is intended to be arbitrable under the governance provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement, but I consider that the better view is that it is. Either party could invoke this review mechanism.
Paragraph 30: “In conclusion, the current drafting of the protocol, including Article 19, does not provide for a mechanism that is likely to enable the UK lawfully to exit the UK-wide customs union without a subsequent agreement.
“This remains the case even if the parties are still negotiating many years later, and even if the parties believe that talks have clearly broken down.
ACCUSED: Theresa May speaks during yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Question Time, during which she denied concealing the facts on the Irish backstop
demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament
Mike Russell MSP