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Court puts devolved governments in their place

26 January 2017

In a significant judgement, the Supreme Court has rejected the claim by the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments that the “legislative consent” of all three devolved parliaments was needed before triggering Article 50.

The devolved governments want to establish that they had a veto over our decision to leave the EU. This claim, if accepted and implemented, would have meant the break-up of Britain.

But the Scottish National Party’s leaders dismiss the Court’s unanimous rejection of their claim. Its international affairs spokesman, Alex Salmond, said he would introduce 50 “serious and substantive” amendments to Article 50 legislation, including a demand that the British government has to get the agreement of all three devolved governments before it can trigger article 50.

That is, Salmond still claims he has a veto over the decision of the British people in the referendum of 23 June 2016.

Holyrood vote?

Yet despite the Court’s ruling, Nicola Sturgeon, the attention-seeking leader of the SNP, says that she will give members of the Scottish parliament a vote on Article 50 – as if this still mattered!

And despite the Court’s ruling, Salmond said that the British government “must treat devolved administrations as equal partners …” Salmond ignored the Supreme Court’s unanimous rejection of the SNP claim it had a constitutional right to be formally consulted.

The Press Summary of the Court’s judgement states: “Relations with the EU and other foreign affairs matters are reserved to UK Government and parliament, not to the devolved institutions.” The judges concluded: “The devolved legislatures do not have a veto on the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU.”

Further, the Court rejected the SNP’s claim that it had a right to be formally consulted before the British government triggers Article 50. President of the Court, Lord Neuberger, said, “On the devolution issues, the court unanimously rules that UK ministers are not legally compelled to consult the devolved legislatures before triggering Article 50. The devolution statutes were enacted on the assumption that the UK would be a member of the EU, but they do not require it. Relations with the EU are a matter for the UK government.”