Devolution is under “systemic attack” from a hostile UK government, Scottish constitution secretary Angus Robertson has claimed.
He argued that UK ministers are using Brexit and the Internal Market Act to “take back control” of devolved powers.
Trying to diminish parliament
Giving evidence to Holyrood’s Constitution Committee for the first time since his appointment, Robertson said the UK government is using post-Brexit policies and spending plans “as an ill-disguised attempt to diminish the powers and responsibilities of the Scottish government, and this parliament”.
Citing reported comments from prime minister Boris Johnson that devolution has been a “disaster”, Robertson told MSPs:
Devolution is under systematic attack from a UK government that is increasingly hostile to devolution in both word and deed.
Robertson, the former SNP leader at Westminster, said the Internal Market Act – designed to manage regulatory divergence post-Brexit and prevent trade barriers between UK nations – “takes powers from Scottish ministers and places it in the hands of UK ministers”.
He also said that UK government spending in Scotland on areas previously reserved “is likely to have a profound and damaging effect on the devolved budget”.
“Keep Scotland safe”
He told the committee:
The Scottish government will do all that we can to keep Scotland safe, protect the gains of devolution and our democratic rights.
We remain committed to working with the UK government and other devolved governments in an equal partnership on common frameworks, on voluntary arrangements based on progress by agreement between equals, offering a model for future co-operation.
But these arrangements can only work if all parties are prepared to respect devolution and proceed on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
Sadly there’s little evidence that Westminster wants an equal partnership, and has resorted instead to unilateral control.
Insisting the Scottish government has a “clear mandate” for another independence referendum, he added:
It is increasingly clear to me that the choice the people of Scotland face is between a greatly diminished devolution settlement under constant threat from the unilateral actions of a hostile UK government, or as an independent country, part of the European Union, and with a full range of powers needed to keep Scotland safe, to recover from the social and economic damage of the pandemic and to flourish in a genuine partnership of equals with our friends across the rest of the United Kingdom.
UK is undermining devolution
Robertson also bemoaned the quality of engagement with Westminster counterparts, suggesting recent meetings have involved Zoom calls “where UK ministers just say ‘Noted’”.
We have a profound challenge about how we deal with the UK government because, frankly, not only is the relationship between the UK government and the devolved administrations suboptimal, but they are actually pursuing policies aimed at undermining and denuding the devolved settlement.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?