MSPs to debate Article 50

Michael Russell, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotlands Place in Europe
Michael Russell, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotlands Place in Europe

The Scottish Parliament will have a vote on Tuesday on the triggering of Article 50 to begin the formal process of leaving the European Union

The debate, however, will not involve a formal legislative consent motion although it will allow the Parliament to give its clear view on the UK Government’s Bill.

This week’s vote in the House of Commons saw only one of Scotland’s 59 MPs vote for the Bill triggering of Article 50, while in the EU referendum 62 per cent of people across Scotland voted to remain in the EU.

The Supreme Court ruled that there is no legally enforceable need for devolved administrations to give consent to the Brexit trigger bill.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon argued, however, that there is still a political need to do so, and pledged to let MSPs vote.

The Scottish Government believes that given the fundamental change to constitutional arrangements involved by triggering formal withdrawal, and the direct effects on the devolved responsibilities, the Scottish Parliament should give its view before the Bill is passed, and that the UK Government should respect the views of the Parliament.

Michael Russell, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, said: “The people of Scotland did not vote for Brexit, and only one of the nation’s 59 MPs has now backed the UK Government by voting for the triggering Article 50.

“It is now essential that the Scottish Parliament’s views are heard prior to the end of the Committee Stage of the Article 50 Bill in the House of Commons, so we will lodge a motion to allow Parliament to express its view.

“A formal LCM would have to go through committee deliberation before Parliament as a whole was able to vote on it – a timetable incompatible with the accelerated timescale to which Westminster is now working.

“The Prime Minister has made numerous statements and commitments to Scotland that there would be an agreed UK-wide approach to Brexit. And the UK Government has now published a white paper which claims ‘The UK Government acts in the interests of the whole UK’.

“Those claims will only be meaningful if the voice of Scotland’s Parliament is respected. Triggering Article 50 will have profound impacts on devolved responsibilities and on the powers of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government. It is therefore right that the Scottish Parliament expresses its view.

“When the motion is debated by MSPs next week it will be a chance for our national Parliament to send a powerful signal on behalf of the people we are elected to serve. And I believe that Parliament will send a resounding message that Scotland’s future is in Europe.”