As Brexit day approaches, Natalie Mauchline outlines the latest Brexit news from Holyrood.
Meaningful Vote Postponed
Upon her arrival in Egypt for the EU-League of Arab States Summit, Theresa May announced MPs would not be given a fresh vote on the Brexit deal until Tuesday 12 March at the latest. The Prime Minister said talks with the EU were “still ongoing” and added that leaving the EU on Friday 29 March was “within our grasp”. Despite the failure to hold a meaningful vote, MPs will still be voting on amendments to decide the direction of Brexit. Among the several amendments expected to be tabled, one comes from Yvette Cooper and Sir Oliver Letwin, which would force the government to hand power back to parliament if no withdrawal deal has been approved by Wednesday 13 March. Opposition parties have demanded Article 50 be extended. If an extension was granted, it would have to be for at least the length of the transition period, which would be expected to last until 2021. The possibility of extending negotiations has highlighted splits in the Cabinet, with Damian Hinds arguing an extension would only “prolong uncertainty” for businesses.
Devolution & Brexit Discussions
There will be two ministerial statements in Holyrood this week, one on the UK’s immigration policy after Britain leaves the EU and the other will be on the delivery of devolved benefits. The growing Brexit frustration from the SNP and the Scottish Government is evident, with Ian Blackford demanding David Mundell threaten his resignation if Article 50 is not extended. Michael Russell is also scheduled to appear before the Finance & Constitution Committee on Wednesday to discuss the UK Common Frameworks. The Committee will hear evidence from the Cabinet Secretary regarding Scotland’s view of the UK Government’s recent framework analysis on which areas of EU law will be intersecting with the devolved competence of Scotland. The UK’s analysis found there were 82 policy areas which could require the creation of non-legislative common frameworks as well as 24 areas which may need legislative frameworks to be developed.
32 days and counting
As Brexit day comes into view, there are growing fears of what a no-deal could mean for the public. Following the news of car factory closures last week, fears that Brexit will lead to a fall in property values have been revealed. Following a survey of Scottish homeowners, 50% said they expected the value of their house to fall as a result of Brexit, whilst only 3% believe prices would rise. Aberdein Considine, the estate agency which held the survey, said the results showed “diminishing confidence in the UK Government’s attempts to secure a positive Brexit outcome”. In other news, it is unlikely the UK Government will be able to fulfil the promise of signing 40 free trade deals into law “a second after” Brexit. As a result, other trade deals have become increasingly vital, including one with the United States. This has been met with trepidation as the US has indicated it would expect food standards to be softened by the UK before a deal could be agreed. The SNP has been particularly critical of what this could mean for Scotland, which is known for its high quality products as part of its international reputation.