“There is a possibility that a legislative consent motion may be required in the Scottish Parliament but that is a matter that is being considered currently between the Westminster Government and the Scottish Government.” – Theresa May
There is much of hint and suggestion about the UK Government’s intentions in the matter of obtaining the Scottish Parliament’s consent for the Repeal Bill. Theresa May now seems to be implying that the Sewell Convention might be respected, despite the UK Supreme Court ruling that it is effectively meaningless. The notion of Holyrood being respected by the British establishment is outlandish enough that we are immediately prompted to ask, “What the hell are they up to?”.
Extra caution is required here because, while the British Prime Minister’s response to Stewart McDonald MP has the appearance of a carefully prepared position, this would hardly be typical of Theresa May; who has something of a reputation for impromptu policy-making. Like anything else she says, this statement may well be subject to ‘clarification’. For which we may read, ‘contradiction’.
But, taking her words at face value, what might we take from them? Always, of course, we must read these things mindful of the British establishment’s overarching priorities. We know, with all the certainty that’s possibly in the murky and shifting world of politics, that the British state regards Scotland’s Parliament, Government and entire political culture as, at best, a nuisance and, at worst, an existential threat to the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. The incessant, grinding effort to undermine and delegitimise our democratic institutions is the stuff of day-to-day politics in Scotland. So, why would the UK Government acknowledge even the possibility of a need for a legislative consent motion to approve the Repeal Bill? Why would Theresa May raise the prospect of Scotland having an effective veto in this, or any other matter? May is, by her own account, a ‘One Nation’ British nationalist. Empowering any of the devolved administrations, but especially Holyrood, should be anathema to her. And yet, here she is, pointedly leaving open the possibility of the Scottish Parliament being able to block Brexit. We would be wise to be suspicious of her motives.
For reasons previously explained, the one interpretation which we can immediately discount is genuine respect for the democratic will of Scotland’s people as represented by the democratically elected Scottish Parliament. That’s just not credible. So what other possibilities might we consider?
We can also disregard the claim that this matter is “being considered currently between the Westminster Government and the Scottish Government”, This is obviously intended to suggest some sort of formal consultation process. But what is there to consider? The UK Supreme Court has already determined the position that the UK Government must take. And the Scottish Government cannot possibly do other than insist that the will of the Scottish Parliament must be respected. Even if there were any actual discussions, they would be hopelessly deadlocked from the outset.
Is it possible that the British government wants the Scottish Parliament to have a veto? A veto which will surely be used? Might they want the option to kill the whole Brexit process, and blame it on those pestilential Jocks? Do they, perhaps, see this potential threat to the process giving them some leverage in negotiations?
Or are they setting a trap? Is the intention to give the Scottish Parliament this effective veto because its use would allow the UK Government to claim justification for suspending the Scottish Parliament and imposing direct Westminster rule in order that the Brexit process can proceed according to the ‘will of the British people’?
Given what we know of the British state’s history, and of the imperatives driving the current UK administration, doesn’t this last seem by far the most likely explanation for Theresa May’s curious and uncharacteristic concession to democracy?Views: 5682
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