Holyrood flexes muscles ahead of Brexit talks

GETTYThe devolved administrations of Scotland & Wales are demanding changes to the Repeal Bill

Russell and Swinney will tell Green that the Scottish government expects full powers over farming, fisheries, environmental law, justice and policing - areas now controlled or influenced by the European Union and likely to involve hundreds of millions of pounds of extra spending for Holyrood.

Britain's First Secretary of State Damian Green met Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Scotland's Brexit Minister Michael Russell in Edinburgh.

"In some areas there will need to be a common approach", he said.

Cabinet Office minister Damian Green has insisted that the government's plan for Brexit do not amount to a power grab from the Scottish Parliament after Holyrood ministers raised concerns about the impact of European Union exit on the devolution settlement.

"We want the powers that are properly exercised in Scotland to be exercised in Scotland permanently, so we are where we are now".

'Both we and the Welsh government have made it clear we could not recommend legislative consent to the bill as it stands, and today we will make clear that changes must be made to protect devolution'.

The aim of the meeting was to start identifying which powers could go to the Scottish Parliament relatively quickly, and which dealt with at a United Kingdom level.

In the wake of the Brexit vote, the Scottish Government has been pressing for power over immigration to be devolved to Holyrood, arguing different needs north of the border should allow for a different policy to be put in place. If the Scottish and Welsh administrations refuse to sign any legislative consent motions relating to Brexit, May's Conservative government can simply ignore it and push ahead anyway.

The Bill, first published in July, will take all EU law now affecting Britain and transpose it into domestic law by repealing the European Communities Act (1972).

"What is now needed is a recognition from the UK Government that the bill as drafted can not proceed".

The First Secretary of State - the Government's second-in-command in all but name - said the view of many British people that immigration is too high helped secure last year's Brexit vote and must be respected.

"We're still at the very early stages of the talks".

The Bill is already highly contentious as May is likely to use a range of archaic statutory instruments - commonly dubbed Henry VIII powers - to amend swathes of legislation without any parliamentary scrutiny.

He said: "The bill - as it now stands - means that Westminster would take exclusive control over significant areas of devolved policy, such as support for Scotland's farmers and food producers and many aspects of environmental protection and control of our seas".

It is expected MSPs and ministers will have to sit late into the night at Holyrood, setting up new committees, in order to agree and pass the often complex updates and redrafting of existing and new legislation.

Green said it would be hugely undesirable to have gaps in Scottish law on the day of Brexit.

"The last thing anyone wants is to suddenly discover we haven't got regulations covering food safety, to take an example".

"We're not going to stop immigration overnight, nobody has ever suggested that, that's never been UK Government policy and it won't be UK Government policy".

Mr Green said he remained confident that an agreement would be reached, claiming that the Scottish Government's objections would "disappear" as the talks progressed.

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