Nicola Sturgeon: Scottish parliament could block Brexit

Scotlands first minister says she will consider asking MSPs to vote down legislation needed for UK to leave the EU

Nicola Sturgeon has suggested that the Scottish parliament could block the passage of legislation necessary for the UK to leave the EU.

In an interview with the Sunday Politics Scotland, she said that of course she would consider asking the Scottish parliament to vote down the legislative consent motions required for the legislation.

In her fifth major political interview of the morning, Scotlands first minister told the shows host, Gordon Brewer: If the Scottish parliament is judging this on the basis of whats right for Scotland, then the option of saying were not going to vote for something thats against Scotlands interests, thats got to be on the table. Youre not going to vote for something that is not in Scotlands interests.

Asked if she could imagine the fury of English people who voted for Brexit if Scotland tried to block the UK leaving the EU, she said: I can, but its perhaps similar to the fury of many people in Scotland right now as we face the prospect of being taken out of the EU against their will. I didnt create these situations. Im trying to navigate the best way forward through them.

Adam Tomkins, leading constitutional law expert and newly elected Conservative MSP, made the point that Sturgeons words should be interpreted carefully, given that there was a huge difference between withholding consent and having a veto.

Holyrood has no power to block Brexit. It is not clear that a legislative consent motion would be triggered by Brexit, but withholding consent is not the same as having the power to block. The Scottish parliament does not hold the legal power to block [the UK exiting the EU].

He added that the Holyrood parliament was not powerless for example, it could refuse to give its consent to changes to the devolution settlement required by Brexit but that its power simply does not extend to having a veto.

Earlier in the morning, in an apparent contradiction to her later position, Sturgeon cautioned any future Conservative prime minster against blocking a second referendum on Scottish independence, as she entrenched her position on Scotlands continued membership of the EU.

Asked on the BBCs Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning what her reaction would be should the next Tory leader refuse to allow a new independence poll, Scotlands first minister replied: I think the people of Scotland would find that completely unacceptable.

I dont think it is acceptable in the context we find ourselves in for anybody trying to dictate to Scotland the terms of how we seek to take the country forward. It is simply not acceptable and I would caution any future prime minister against putting themselves in that position.

Sturgeon also said that if a second independence referendum is held, prompted by the UK-wide vote to leave the EU on Thursday despite every local authority in Scotland voting to remain, it would not be a re-run of the 2014 referendum.

The context and the circumstances have changed dramatically. The UK that Scotland voted to remain within in 2014 doesnt exist anymore.

The Scottish secretary, David Mundell, acknowledged on Sunday Politics Scotland that there would be a second independence referendum if thats what the people of Scotland want, but added that it was very unhelpful to speak about the possibility so soon after the EU vote.

Sturgeons comments came as a poll carried out immediately after the EU referendum result revealed a healthy bounce in support for independence. In 2014, Scotland voted to remain part of the UK by 55% to 45%.

Sturgeon also told Marr that there was a strong moral argument for Scotland to retain its current terms of EU membership around questions such as currency, because the country was negotiating to remain rather than the re-enter the union and, speaking to John Pienaar later on BBC 5 Live, she insisted that she was not going to be part of negotiations that accept the inevitability of Scotland exiting the EU.

Referring to Scotlands overwhelming and emphatic vote to remain within the EU on Marr, the SNP leader said: This is not only a matter of principle. Whats going to happen with the UK is that there are going to be deeply damaging and painful consequences of the process of trying to extricate the UK from the EU. I want to try and protect Scotland from that.

This would not be a decision about Scotland leaving anywhere, this would be a decision of Scotland staying and therefore the moral argument about us retaining the current terms that we have would be even stronger than in 2014.

She added that she did not in any circumstances want to see a border between Scotland and England.

Throughout a gruelling round of interviews on Sunday morning, and with the Westminster leaderships of both the Conservative and Labour parties in turmoil, Sturgeon was keen to emphasise that there was no leadership vacuum in Scotland.

As I watch whats happening in Westminster just now, the complete vacuum of leadership, its shameful whats happened both in the Tory party and in Labour, I am determined that Scotland is going to be led, and led with purpose.

Polling publishing on Sunday confirmed a surge in support for independence since the EU referendum result.

A Panelbase survey for the Sunday Times indicated an almost direct reversal of the result of the 2014 referendum, with 52% in favour of independence, up seven points, and 48% against, down seven points.

The snapshot of 620 adults also found that 52% thought Scotland was likely to become independent within 10 years, rising from 30% when the same question was asked in April.

A poll for the Sunday Post that asked respondents how they would vote if a second referendum were held tomorrow, revealed 59% would vote yes to independence, 32% no and 9% undecided.


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