Our MSPs welcome Continuity Bill designed to maintain European standards in areas of devolved responsibility

Scottish Green MSPs today (27 Feb) welcomed the introduction to Parliament of a Continuity Bill designed to maintain European standards in areas of devolved responsibility such as agriculture, environment, justice and health, rather than allowing the UK Government to "assault" the devolution settlement with its EU Withdrawal Bill.

Scottish Greens Co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"The UK Government has treated Scotland with contempt throughout the Brexit crisis. David Mundell and Theresa May have missed too many chances to fix their dog’s breakfast of a Bill.

"The Greens therefore welcome the introduction of a Continuity Bill to the Scottish Parliament, and we will examine it closely to ensure that it fully protects the devolution settlement and does whatever possible to prevent the worst effects of the Brexit crisis, a crisis Scotland did not vote for. 

"Even if the UK Government offers a last-minute compromise, the Continuity Bill must proceed and I’m pleased the minister confirmed to me that only a vote in Parliament could result in its withdrawal. The commitment to include the Charter of Fundamental Rights is also welcome."

On timescales for scrutiny, Harvie said:

"We have successfully argued against the most rapid emergency procedure and welcome the government’s proposal for the Continuity Bill to be scrutinised and debated over weeks rather than hours. Legislation dealing with the Brexit crisis is far more complex and significant than previous emergency bills, and must not be rushed through Parliament in a single day.

"The UK Government’s own analysis shows that they believe the only way to salvage any benefits from this mess is by breaking their own promises to maintain high standards in areas like social and environmental protections. That would mean a direct assault on policy areas Holyrood is responsible for, and we will not allow it."

And on the issue of competency, Harvie added:

"It is inconceivable that the Welsh Assembly, with its more limited powers, can debate a Continuity Bill of its own but Holyrood cannot. Whether or not the competence of this Bill is challenged, we cannot be left in a position with no Bill of any kind to deal with the fallout of the UK Government’s Brexit crisis."