Gethins: UK Govt’s “equal partners” claim “shattered beyond repair” by unilateral Article 50 trigger

Nathanael Williams

SNP denounce the single track approach shown by the UK Govt as the Scottish Government is left out of decision date to trigger Article 50

“SHATTERED BEYOND REPAIR” is how Stephen Gethins MP, SNP spokesperson for Europe, has described the UK Government’s claim that it has and will treat the devolved government’s equally throughout the Brexit process. 

His comments were in response to the news that the UK Government will trigger Article 50, the process to begin leaving the EU, on March 29 and the revelation by Michael Russell the Scottish Government’s minister for Brexit that the UK Government did not consult him before their announcement today (Monday 20 March).

Gethins also stated that the manner of the decision showed that any idea of a UK-wide approach to Brexit and representation of Scottish interests promised by the UK PM Theresa May, has been shown to be untrue.

He said: “Today’s announcement that the Prime Minister will push ahead and unilaterally trigger Article 50 shatters beyond repair any notion or position that the Prime Minister is seeking a UK-wide agreement. For nine months since the EU referendum, there has been no attempt by the UK government to seek a meaningful discussion or agreement with the devolved administrations.
“Scotland is at a hugely important crossroads and we cannot be in a position where we drift for the next two years without as much as a clue as to the impact leaving the EU will have. That is why it is more crucial than ever that the Scottish parliament is able to give the people of Scotland a fair, legal and informed choice on the direction this country takes.”

Theresa May had previously said that the trigger date would be “sometime at the end of March” however a firm date had not been set. But soon after the day of March 29 had been set Michael Russell, who is leading the Scottish government’s Brexit talks with Westminster, said he only found out the date when it was reported by the BBC.

Following the confirmation of 10 Downing Street, several Scottish MP’s and MEPs took to twitter to express dismay and anger at the lack of communication. 

The news additionally follows Nicola Sturgeon’s statement last Monday (13 March) that she would seek a vote in Holyrood to start down the path of another referendum on Scottish independence. Her reasons were based on what she called the “brick wall of intransigence” shown by the UK Government in its failure to represents Scottish interests and make constructive use of the joint ministerial committee (JMC), the body used by UK Government to liaise with the devolved governments on the Brexit process. 

Political parties in favour of the union have not responded to the news that the Scottish Government was left out of negotiations. They instead had their focus on the crucial vote in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday (22 March) where they will attempt to block the Scottish Government and the Scottish Greens voting for a second referendum to be held.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, went on the record shortly after Downing street’s announcement promising to release a longer response within 48 hours. After this, an extraordinary summit of the remaining 27 EU member states will be called in four to six weeks time to discuss the EU’s negotiating position.

Picture courtesy of YouTube

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