Mundell claims SNP blocked Brexit powers compromise created by ex-pm
● Blackford calls for Scottish Secretary to resign after ‘failing to protect devolution’
A last-ditch cross-party bid to resolve the row over post brexit devolution was rejected by the Scottish Government, David Mundell has claimed.
The Scottish Secretary told MPS that a proposal, drawn up by former civil servant Jim Gallagher and ex-prime minister Gordon Brown, was put to the SNP’S Brexit minister Michael Russell by the UK government, but was dismissed without discussion.
Labour’s plan would have seen Westminster control of powers returning from Brussels being limited to areas affecting the UK’S international obligations.
Mr Mundell was addressing MPS for the first time since debate on the devolution clauses of the EU Withdrawal Bill were squeezed to just 15 minutes in the House of Commons – with all the time being taken up by Tory MP David Lidington – which led to a walkout by SNP MPS in the middle of Prime Minister’s Questions the next day.
“They were not for moving, they were not for compromis- ing, they were not for changing,” Mr Mundell said of the UK government’s compromise approach to the SNP.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford – who returned to the Commons yesterday after being suspended on Wednesday – said of Mr Mundell: “The Secretary of State has failed to protect devolution, failed to protect the Scottish Parliament, failed to protect Scottish interests.
“Having plunged Scotland into constitutional crisis, will he finally do the right thing if he has any dignity, if he has any self-respect, and resign and do it now?”
Mr Mundell replied: “After yesterday I am not taking any lessons from [Mr Blackford] on dignity.”
He also told MPS he was concerned at reports that Mr Russell was considering pulling the Scottish Government out of technical talks on how joint powers will be managed after Brexit.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May’s flagship Brexit legislation was again thrown into doubt after a compromise designed to keep Tory backbenchers on board was branded “unacceptable” by leading rebels.
She saw off defeat on the EU Withdrawal Bill at the last minute on Tuesday by persuading rebels that she would offer concessions to address their concerns about being given a truly “meaningful vote” on the final Brexit deal.
But an amendment tabled by Brexit Secretary David Davis yesterday gives MPS no chance to block a “no deal” EU withdrawal if agreement has not been reached with Brussels by 21 January next year.
Instead, MPS would be allowed to vote only on a “neutral” motion, confirming that they have considered a statement by a minister on the issue – crucially, the statement would be unamendable.
Leading pro-eu Conservative Dominic Grieve said: “It is unacceptable in my view. It is not in accordance with the normal procedures of the House of Commons and it totally negates the point of the amendment, which was to give MPS a say.”