Scotland politics

SNP slams Scots Tories over Brexit bill

house of commons Image copyright PA
Image caption The bill will leave the Commons on Wednesday and go to the House of Lords

The SNP has accused Scottish Conservative MPs of acting as "lobby fodder" for the UK government over its Brexit bill.

The Scottish Tories have been highly critical of delays to the UK government's timetable for amending the bill to take account of devolution.

But all 13 Scottish Conservative MPs opposed amendments put forward by Labour in the Commons on Tuesday.

The bill will leave the Commons later on Wednesday and go to the Lords.

The Scottish and Welsh Governments have said they cannot recommend the bill is granted consent in its current form, as it would see EU responsibilities in devolved areas initially transferred to Westminster.

This has been viewed as a power grab by critics, with the UK government previously promising to introduce changes to address such concerns during report stage in the Commons.

But it emerged earlier this month that the timetable had slipped, with the amendments now expected to emerge in the House of Lords.

When the bill entered its final stage in the Commons on Tuesday, Labour tabled amendments which it said would "fix these problems".

The party's shadow Scottish secretary, Lesley Laird, wrote to Scotland's Tory MPs urging them to back the amendments in order to prevent a "coach and horses being driven through the devolution settlement".

But the amendment was defeated by 321 votes to 297 - with all 13 Scottish Conservatives voting against.

Scottish Tory MP John Lamont told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme that it would have been "daft" to have "rushed through" amendments while negotiations between the Scottish and UK governments were ongoing.

But SNP MP Stephen Gethins said the Scottish Conservatives had been guilty of a "shameful abdication of duty", and claimed they had "marched into the lobby behind their Westminster masters to deny any safeguards to be put in place to protect devolved powers".

'Undermine devolution'

He added: "We have heard time and time again from Scottish Tory MPs they are standing up for Scotland.

"They were presented with an opportunity to put party politics aside and join with SNP and Labour MPs to form a majority to hold the UK government to account.

"They did not just fail to take that opportunity, they actively undermined the foundations of devolution.

"It is now clear more than ever before, that Scottish Tory MPs are mere lobby fodder willing to let this failing and faltering UK government off the hook."

During Tuesday's debate on the Brexit bill, Scottish Conservative MP Stephen Kerr urged the government not to underestimate the "depth of disappointment and frustration" felt by him and his colleagues over the delay to its promised amendments.

He added: "The government had control of the timetable. The deadlines were created by them, but they have let this chamber down by not delivering on what they promised."

He warned that the bill was leaving the Commons in an "unsatisfactory state".

But he claimed the Scottish government had approached negotiations over the bill with its "usual wrecking-ball mentality" in order to "create a constitutional crisis" and further its aim of holding a second independence referendum.