Michael Fabricant warns UK Government not to fall into ‘big trap’ of overruling devolution
Conservative MP Michael Fabricant has warned the UK Government not to fall into the “big political trap” of using its powers to overrule devolution, warning that it could see an increase in support for independence.
The UK Government is said to be considering invoking section 35 of the Scotland Act, which allows him to prevent the Presiding Office of the Scottish Parliament from submitting legislation for Royal Assent.
That would be the first time in the history of devolution that a secretary of state has used that power, but could set a new precedent for greater UK interference in devolution in Scotland and Wales.
Michael Fabricant however warned that any attempts to block the Scottish Parliament’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which passed by 86 voted to 39 in favour, would be a “big political trap” for the Conservatives.
“Only this time, we won’t just be helping Labour but the SNP and independence for Scotland too,” he said. “An own goal for the Unionists.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sunak has said that it would be “completely reasonable” for the UK Government to consider blocking the act.
“Lots of people have got concerns about this new Bill in Scotland, about the impact it will have on women’s and children’s safety,” he said.
“So I think it is completely reasonable for the UK Government to have a look at it, understand what the consequences are for women and children’s safety in the rest of the UK, and then decide on what the appropriate course of action is.”
But former Prime Minister Theresa May argued that similar reforms should be rolled out across England instead.
“The very fact that I put the proposal forward shows that that was something that I thought was important to do, particularly to take some of the medical aspects out of this,” she told the BBC.
She added: “Obviously, there’s a different system in Scotland, but I think it is important when any part of the UK is looking at legislation that only affects that part of the UK, that thought is given to what the impact would be on the Union.
“But at the end of the day it is about people, and it’s about the impact it would have on people.”
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