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MSPs 'might block' EU Great Repeal Bill

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media captionMike Russell argues "legislative consent" will be required for the Great Repeal Bill

Scotland's Brexit minister has warned the Scottish Parliament might block Theresa May's "Great Repeal Bill".

The prime minister has said the bill would remove the European Communities Act 1972 from the statute book as a prelude to EU withdrawal.

But Mike Russell said it would require Scottish Parliament approval, which may be denied if Scotland's interests are not represented in negotiations.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said there would be full consultation.

But she also stressed that the EU referendum had been a UK-wide vote and that "there is no veto for the Scottish Parliament".

Theresa May has promised that a "Great Repeal Bill" in the next Queen's Speech which would remove the 1972 treaty but also enshrine all existing EU law into British law.

This would allow the government to seek to keep, amend or cancel any legislation once Brexit has been completed.

Under the "Sewel convention" the UK Parliament would not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

But nothing in the Scotland Act prevents the UK Parliament from legislating on matters which are within devolved competence.

'Vital interests'

Speaking to the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland programme, Mr Russell said such a bill would concern devolved matters and would therefore require MSPs' approval.

He said: "This Great Repeal Act will require the approval of the Scottish parliament - a legislative consent motion will be required.

"So the Scottish government, the Scottish Parliament has a formal role there.

"We need to make sure we are in there discussing these matters because on what we're hearing so far, the matters of great importance - matters of free movement, a whole range of matters on education and the environment - I'm not hearing the sense in London that makes me think that Scotland and Scotland's vital interests are being protected."

Asked whether the Scottish Parliament might refuse to give legislative consent, he pointed to recent parliament votes demonstrating opposition to a "hard Brexit".

He said: "Presently there is a majority against that repeal bill - that's absolutely obvious."

media captionRuth Davidson said Scotland's interests would be represented in Brexit talks

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson insisted the Scottish government would be consulted in the Brexit negotiations.

She said: "There's a full acknowledgement from the UK government that consultation will go on within the Scottish government.

"David Davis {Brexit Secretary} spoke to Nicola Sturgeon last night. He's already sat down with Mike Russell, who is the minister Nicola Sturgeon has put in charge of the negotiations on behalf of the Scottish government.

"So it's about being integrally involved - but I think there has to be an understanding that this was a UK-wide vote.

"The UK is the member state. Foreign affairs is reserved to the UK. So there is full input there - but there is no veto for the Scottish Parliament."

'Party before country'

Scottish Labour's Europe spokesman Lewis Macdonald accused the prime minister of brazenly putting party before country.

He said: "There is nothing 'great' about a Bill with the purpose of withdrawing from treaty obligations on one hand, then re-enacting all the laws which arise from those treaty obligations on the other.

"There is little evidence that the Conservative Government has worked out how this measure will work in Scotland, given the separate status and application of Scots Law.

"The rhetoric of 'an independent and sovereign country once again' is only too familiar to people in Scotland. It is just as meaningless for Britain in the 21st Century as it is for Scotland.

"If the Tories are intent on wrecking our relationships in Europe by pulling Britain out of the single market as well as the EU, they should at least be honest with the British people about what that will mean."

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