Thursday, March 1, 2018
Enough of the circus, it’s time for the ringleader to go
GIVEN HOW CRUCIAL the upcoming Brexit Bill is to the wellbeing of our economy and democracy there has been far to many circus antics. Rare is it we have a chance to hold our elected servants to account. The insistence of the Scottish Government to link changes that reverse certain principles of the Scotland Act to Brexit have created an intolerable and inevitable constitutional crisis.
It was, I´m afraid, always so intended. We have seen tedious displays of shuttle diplomacy between the Scottish Office and Bute House with underwhelming Sherpas and over-promoted press officers, and boy they are legion of late, telling us all how close we are to a deal with ourselves, that most powers will be devolved straight from Brussels to Holyrood and that the SNP is being awkward.
Of course the SNP is being awkward. That is why so many Tories are now in Holyrood.
The SNP makes it its business to be awkward and is always on the lookout to harm the UK. How can this be news to a dead dog in Dagenham let alone the British government?
The Bow Group warned last July that a poison pill was being slipped into our tea by the Scottish Office whose job it is not only to represent UK Government policy in Scotland but also to work collegiately with Cabinet peers to deliver Brexit. This is no trifling matter. We are now at a point where the UK Executive is to have the Legislature vote to reverse the devolution principle that has evolved over 20 years.
It matters not what one´s opinion of devolution is.
The law is clear that powers are devolved to Holyrood unless specifically reserved to Westminster and that such powers cannot be taken back without legislative consent from Holyrood. It is a flight of fantasy quite perverse to believe the Scottish Office and the Scottish Opposition in Holyrood are unaware of this or that they would risk the Scottish Government´s proposed Continuity Bill to lock Brexit in the courts unless they in fact were keen for this to happen and for the Scottish Government to take the blame.
Rather like Jack Sprat and his avaricious spouse carving the joint between themselves and serving us a constitutional crisis on a shared platter.
The Scottish Government is planning to introduce a Continuity Bill to maintain various EU standards after Brexit. So goes the spiel. It has been deemed beyond the competence of the Scottish Parliament by the Presiding Officer but when did that ever stop the SNP trying? Its leaders have have negotiated in bad faith and were never going to agree with the UK government over a Brexit plan. This is hardly a surprise to us yet the English press will still be disappointed. Constant threatening by Mike Russell to leak minutes told those familiar with Scottish politics where this was going
This whole thing looks awfully like it has been a setup by David Mundell and Ruth Davidson to create a fight the SNP couldn´t resist that will lock Brexit in the courts. Professor Tomkins is their erudite constitutional expert and is already running off legal tropes as to why the SNP’s Bill is all unnecessary and illegal. The truth is I think too many on the blue team are delighted it has entered the legal realm.
There should not to be any legal debate or bills introduced at Holyrood in response to Brexit.
That we are hearing these discussions is because the British government has landed us in a completely avoidable mess.
The UK, guided by the Secretary of State and Scottish Opposition Leader has crafted the Brexit Bill to rewrite aspects of the Scotland Act in that it takes power from Brussels to Westminster and then decides (unilaterally in practice) when these powers are devolved.
That cannot be by fate or by accident, for those themselves are resigning matters.
The Secretary of State should resign for having led his boss to a point where she could face a leadership challenge herself. She certainly will if Brexit stalls. There are plenty of MPs in Scotland now who could do a far better job. Some with a lot more integrity on Brexit.