This week's Community Column is by Ross Greer, Green MSP for the West of Scotland


Buried in the UK Conservative Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill is a sneaky power-grab designed to undermine devolution and the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Greens, along with the SNP, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats, all oppose this power-grab. The Conservatives are completely isolated, but they’re still pushing these terrible proposals forward.

In essence, the Tories at Westminster want the power to overrule the Scottish Parliament and make or change laws and regulations over areas which are devolved to Holyrood – contrary to the spirit of devolution, which the people of Scotland overwhelmingly voted for in 1997.

What holds them back from doing this at present is the ‘Sewell Convention’, the principle that Westminster would not normally legislate on areas devolved to Scotland without the consent of the Scottish Parliament. They even wrote the Sewell Convention into the 2016 Scotland Act to show how much they respected Scotland and devolution.

The problem is, largely thanks to Brexit and the UK Government’s wilful ignoring of Scotland’s overwhelming vote to remain in the EU, they have decided that normal rules do not apply. The Tories now wants control over new areas of law which should actually lie within the powers of the Scottish Parliament. And they’ve decided to rewrite the meaning of consent to do it.

Their latest amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill says a consent decision from the Scottish Parliament wouldn’t just be our agreeing to change (the accurate meaning of consent) but also our not agreeing or explicitly rejecting. The Tories’ idea of consent is that Scotland’s elected parliament says no and they, a government Scotland didn’t vote for, overrule us anyway. They’ve decided that No means Yes.

It would almost be funny if this wasn’t such a direct attack on Scottish democracy and a parliament brought into being by the popular will of the Scottish people.

The Greens will fight this nonsense at every stage. and we’re glad that Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats will oppose this power grab as well. That’s why we collectively passed an alternative Continuity Bill at Holyrood.

Charmingly, the UK Government is taking that bill to court to try and strike it down.

Why exactly are the Tories so determined to take power away from Scotland rather than come to a mutual agreement? This is yet another element of the Brexit process where they have completely lost the plot.