Giving Westminster control over devolved policy areas after Brexit will be harmful to the economy of Dumfries and Galloway, a south Scotland MSP has said.
Joan McAlpine made the comments after questioning Scotland’s Brexit Minister, Mike Russell, about the status of Brexit talks with Westminster.
The UK Government want to retain control over all powers currently administered at EU level – but the Scottish Government say that laws relating to devolved policy areas should be repatriated to the Scottish Parliament.
Speaking in the Parliament on Tuesday, Ms McAlpine said:
“The minister has made it clear that the Scottish Parliament could be prevented from legislating in a wide range of devolved areas for, shockingly, up to seven years. What impact could that have on vital Scottish interests, particularly in the context of trade deals being struck after Brexit?
Mr Russell commented:
“The topic of trade deals is clearly very much on people’s minds.
“In relation to a range of food safety issues, measures could simply be imposed on Scotland and we would have no possibility of resisting them. The same applies to areas such as environmental issues, the administration and development of agricultural policy and fishing.
Commenting on Tuesday’s exchange, Ms McAlpine – who chairs the Parliament’s Committee on Europe – said:
“The Minister is absolutely correct to point out that policy areas such as agriculture, and the environment – currently run from Holyrood – are likely to be subject to Westminster’s whims if the UK Withdrawal Bill is passed in its current form.
“Clearly, the legislation is completely incompatible with Scotland’s Devolution settlement.
“Allowing Westminster to control policy areas like farming and agriculture would be a massive blow for Dumfries and Galloway. Just last year, the UK Government was found to be misappropriating hundreds of millions of pounds of European farming subsidies destined for Scotland.
“Any form of Brexit will foist unnecessary challenges upon a region which voted to remain in the EU. It is time that the UK Government backed down from their attempted power grab so that a sensible deal can be struck to mitigate as much damage as possible in the event that the UK leaves the EU.”
The full exchange, and the Minister’s statement can be read here: