MSPs vote against with­drawal agree­ment and no-deal sce­nario

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - NEWS -

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

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