The UK is facing a constitutional crisis after each of the three devolved administrations voted against Brexit legislation, the SNP’s Westminster leader said.
Ian Blackford spoke after the Welsh Assembly voted on Tuesday to reject the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) bill – following in the footsteps of the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The SNP MP accused the UK government of using the legislation for a power grab on the parliaments in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, criticising the “gross disrespect from Boris Johnson and his Brexit fanboys that are in Number 10 Downing Street”.
After the vote in Cardiff on Tuesday, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “All three devolved parliaments have now rejected the EU Withdrawal bill – it is unprecedented and momentous.
“For the UK to ignore that reality will simply demonstrate how broken the Westminster system is.”
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said the bill was “flawed and doesn’t protect the interests of those we serve”.
Meanwhile, Blackford said the Scottish Parliament would lose 28 devolved powers covering areas such as farming, fishing and the environment.
He raised fears this could be just the first such attack on devolution from Westminster.
The Sewel Convention, a key feature of the UK’s political arrangements, sets out that the UK Parliament will “not normally” legislate on devolved policy areas without the consent of the administrations.
Blackford, speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, said: “If you can argue, as the government seems to have done in this case, that the situation is not normal, then you can always say the situation is not normal.
“What is to stop you turning around and taking powers back from the Scottish Parliament at another time?”
While none of the devolved institutions have granted permission for Westminster to go ahead with the legislation, their actions will not stop the Withdrawal bill from passing through Westminster.
Blackford added: “There’s 28 devolved powers that we’re going to be losing as a consequence of this. But really it is about this issue of respect.
“What we’ve got here is the government acting with a big stick, that is effectively telling not just Holyrood but Cardiff and Belfast as well ‘this is what going to happen and you don’t have a say in this’.
“We’re supposed to have a family of nations and Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom is supposed to be respected.
“None of that is happening and I think that is why you have got legitimate concerns.”
He added: “The Queen is going to be asked to give Royal Assent to this Act and it is an Act that doesn’t have the support of three of the four Parliaments in the United Kingdom.
“That is unprecedented and I would suggest it is in effect a constitutional crisis.
“The prime minister has got to change his position, he’s got to respect the first ministers in all the devolved administrations.”
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?