Scotland politics

SNP's Ian Blackford urges Brexit compromise

Saltire and EU flag Image copyright Reuters
Image caption MSPs at Holyrood are likely to play a role in helping to pass the Brexit repeal bill

A compromise on Brexit should be sought to satisfy all parts of the UK, the SNP's leader at Westminster has said.

Ian Blackford spoke to the BBC's Today programme after it was mooted that Holyrood might be required to give its consent on the forthcoming repeal bill.

That has led to speculation that the Edinburgh parliament could disrupt the Brexit process.

Mr Blackford said he did not want to talk about blocking, but rather how "we can actually reach a compromise".

At last year's referendum, voters in Scotland backed the UK remaining in the EU by 62% to 38%.

The MP said the way to proceed was about "mutual respect".

Mr Blackford said Prime Minister Theresa May needed to recognise that there were differences throughout the United Kingdom.

Image copyright SNP
Image caption Ian Blackford is the SNP's Westminster leader

He added: "Let's not talk about blocking, let's talk about how we can actually reach a compromise which can satisfy the interests of all parts of the UK.

"There needs to be a meeting of the joint ministerial committee - the parliament in London, meeting together with the governments in Edinburgh, of Belfast and of Cardiff, and of course I think it is right, and many people have said this, that the Scottish government should have been represented at the talks in Brussels.

"For us, it is about maintaining our ability to trade through the European single market, to have the benefits of the customs union and, as a consequence of that, free movement of people.

"I think what we are trying to be is trying to be reasonable and say look we understand the position that you're in but also let's make sure that respect cuts both ways."

Mrs May, whose government plans were outlined in the Queen's Speech on Wednesday, has said that Scotland would leave the EU along with the rest of the UK. She has also reiterated that leaving the single market would happen.

Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell has said there would "undoubtedly be more decision-making powers coming to Holyrood, and I look forward to working closely with the Scottish government on this".

Could Holyrood stop the Brexit process?

By Brain Taylor, BBC Scotland political editor

I think not, for three principal reasons...

  1. We have had this discussion previously and Scottish Ministers have never at any point claimed they had a potential veto over Brexit.
  2. It could be argued that an LCM would cover those parts of the Great Repeal Bill which involve devolved provisions. It would not, of itself, be a vote upon the entire substance of the Bill but upon the devolved implications. Thus it would be designed to plug any unwanted gaps in Scots Law which might result if the return of EU powers did not feature the Scottish dimension. In short, to help Holyrood, not hinder Westminster.
  3. And most saliently, we already have a legal ruling on this matter. The Legislative Consent Motion builds upon the original Sewel Convention, named after the Labour peer and minister who steered the original devolution legislation through the House of Lords.

Read more from Brian

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Media captionNicola Sturgeon said it would be unthinkable if Holyrood did not play its part in the legislative process of the Repeal Bill

The Scottish Parliament's role in the Brexit process was also raised at First Minister's Questions on Thursday.

Nicola Sturgeon reiterated that the Scottish government should have a seat at the negotiating table.

She told the chamber: "I think it would be better if we had two things that this parliament united to demand of the UK government that, first, this parliament would be properly consulted through the formal legislative consent process and, secondly, that this Scottish government, democratically elected, has a seat at the negotiating table so that we can properly defend Scotland's interest.

"So I would challenge all parties across this chamber to get behind us in demanding both of those things."

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