Supreme Court rules against Scottish replacement for Westminster Brexit bill

 
Alex Daniel
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Holyrood passed its own Brexit legislation in March after disagreeing with Westminster’s own Brexit bill (Source: Getty)

The Supreme Court has decided parts of a Scottish law passed to take control over areas such as farming and fishing after Brexit are “outside of the legislative competence” of the Scottish parliament.


Holyrood passed its own Brexit legislation in March after disagreeing with Westminster’s own Brexit bill.

Most of the Holyrood bill was within its competence, the Supreme Court ruled, but one area which looked to have legislative control over agriculture and fisheries was ruled to be outside it.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said result had given “much needed” clarity that the bill “goes beyond the powers of the Scottish Parliament”.

Holyrood will respond with its own statement this afternoon.


The laws were passed after MSPs refused to give consent to Westminster’s own withdrawal bill, which Hollyrood described as a “power grab” in policy areas like fishing and farming that were devolved to Scotland in 1999.

But advocate general for Scotland Lord Keen told the judges the Westminster bill was meant to create a “single cohesive body” of rules in the UK after Brexit, and that the Scottish bill would frustrate this with “inconsistent” regulations.

Director of public policy at Scottish legal giant Pinsent Masons Andrew Henderson said: “Of the many challenges posed by Brexit, its potential impact on the UK’s devolution settlement is proving increasingly complex.

“The court has found that the Scottish parliament did act outside of its legislative competence on one count – pursuing measures which might result in modification of the Scotland Act, a power the devolved institutions of Scotland do not enjoy. The UK Government and opponents of the SNP [Scottish National Party] will trumpet this aspect of the ruling.”

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