Scotland’s two governments and the parties of Holyrood should convene urgent talks to improve the devolution deal from the Withdrawal Bill before Scotland’s constitutional future is decided by the courts, Labour said today.
Shadow Scotland Secretary Lesley Laird said there was still time to improve the deal, even after amendments to the legislation were passed last night.
Scottish Labour’s deputy leader said that talks between the UK Government, the Scottish Government and all of Holyrood’s parties should formulate a memorandum of understanding over how best to navigate the sunset clause period.
Labour said the memorandum could also propose that the only circumstance in which the UK Government should be able to act without the consent of the Scottish Parliament is where the UK Government has a reasonable belief that not acting would leave them in contradiction of international obligations – something that is already contained within the Scotland Act.
The party also highlighted Clause 22 of the EU Withdrawal Bill, which would allow the Bill to effectively be retrospectively changed by a Minister of the Crown.
Lesley Laird has written to David Lidington urging him in the strongest possible terms to hold these meetings urgently.
Labour said any other approach from Scotland’s governments and parties would be petty politics rather than working in the interests of the people of Scotland.
Shadow Secretary of State Lesley Laird said:
Lesley Laird's letter to David Lidington
“The last word on the devolution deal cannot be about chaotic Tory timetabling of parliamentary debates – we need a fresh approach from all parties.
The public just want this mess sorted. This mess can still be fixed before Scotland’s two governments find themselves in a courtroom. Time has not run out for a deal to be struck.
That is why Labour is proposing fresh talks to broker a better deal for devolution. Both governments could draw up a memorandum of understanding to better navigate the sunset clause period. There are even provisions within the Withdrawal Bill to turn this memorandum of understanding into law.
This issue is too important to be reduced to squabbling between two governments.
This is a grown up approach to a complex issue. We need Scotland’s parties to put the interests of the people first, not their own narrow political agendas.”