Supreme Court judgment

Constitutional Relations Secretary: Scottish Government 'vindicated'.

The Scottish Parliament was entitled to pass its own legislation to prepare Scotland's laws for Brexit, the Supreme Court has found.

In its judgment, published today, the Supreme Court rejected the UK Government's claim that it was outwith the powers of MSPs to make such preparations when they approved the UK Withdrawal from the EU (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill.

Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell said parts of the Bill have been found now to be outside the Scottish Parliament's competence only because, in an 'act of constitutional vandalism', the UK Government took steps which cut Holyrood's powers without its consent after MSPs approved the new law.

Mr Russell said:

"The Scottish Government's position has been vindicated by the Supreme Court judgment, which confirms that the Scottish Parliament had the competence to prepare its own laws for Brexit when the Continuity Bill was passed.

"Worryingly, parts of the Bill have been thwarted as a result of steps taken by the UK Government. For the first time ever, UK Law Officers delayed an act of the Scottish Parliament from becoming law by referring it to the Supreme Court.

"Then the UK Government, for the first time ever, invited the UK Parliament to pass a Bill which they knew would cut the powers of the Scottish Parliament without its consent. The UK Government changed the rules of the game midway through the match.

"This is an act of constitutional vandalism but that does not take away from the fact this judgment makes clear MSPs were perfectly entitled to prepare Scotland's laws for Brexit at the time this Bill was passed. The UK Government's arguments have been clearly rejected.

"We will now reflect on this judgment and discuss with other parties before coming back to Parliament to set out the best way forward."



The UK Withdrawal from the EU (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill, also known as the Continuity Bill, was passed by 95 votes to 32 in the Scottish Parliament in March 2018 and was then referred to the Supreme Court by the UK Government.

Some of the provisions of the Continuity Bill cannot become law because of new limits which the UK EU (Withdrawal) Act placed on the Scottish Parliament's powers.

The Supreme Court has confirmed that the Scottish Parliament had the power to prepare its laws for the UK's withdrawal from the EU. It has concluded that, apart from one section, the Continuity Bill was within the competence of the Scottish Parliament when it was passed.

However, as a result of the EU (Withdrawal) Act a number of other provisions of the Continuity Bill cannot now become law. Those include the provisions which would preserve the Charter of Fundamental Rights and which would give Scottish Ministers power to deal with deficiencies on the law on withdrawal from the EU.


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