Scottish Parliament poised to reject EU Withdrawal Bill amid devolution row

Scotland rejects key Brexit bill sparking fears of constitutional crisis

Scottish Parliament poised to reject EU Withdrawal Bill amid devolution row

The Scottish Parliament voted against British Prime Minister Theresa May's landmark Brexit legislation, setting up a potential constitutional crisis and further complicating the path to an orderly departure.

The minister said he was disappointed by "all the constitutional hoo-ha, all the bickering and politicking". Members of the Scottish National Party, the Labor Party, the Liberal Democrats and Scottish Greens showed a rare unity, approving the proposal of the Scottish government to reject the European Union withdrawal bill. The vote is not legally binding, but it puts May in a tricky situation.

The prime minister can either give in to the Scottish government's demands for a final say on any of those policy changes or stand her ground and impose the new arrangements, risking a constitutional battle with the Scottish parliament.

The British government will press ahead with the EU Withdrawal Bill despite the Scottish parliament's decision to withhold its consent for the legislation. The prime minister briefed Conservative backbenchers on Monday about the two options her ministers are considering: a customs partnership which see Britain collecting tariffs on behalf of the EU; and a combination of technological and administrative measures created to diminish friction on a UK-EU customs border.

The dispute centers on who will have control of powers now residing in Brussels, such as over farming and fisheries, once Britain leaves the EU.

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Scottish Brexit minister Michael Russell said it would give United Kingdom ministers "a totally free hand to pass legislation that would directly affect Scotland's fishing industry, our farmers, our environment, our public sector procurement rules, the safe use of chemicals and our food safety", while Holyrood's "hands would be tied".

And he said Scottish government proposals for resolving the "very technical issue which has become the focal point of an unnecessary row" would effectively allow the Holyrood to veto measures which applied across the whole of the UK.

"The Scottish issue is just one among many headaches", Akash Paun, senior fellow at the Institute for Government in London told Bloomberg.

Mr Blackford was heckled by Conservative MPs, who shouted "shame" as he set out that the Scottish Parliament had refused is consent by 93 votes to 30.

The EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, left, and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon prepare for a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels, last year.

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