Scottish Government points to Wales’ treatment as part of the union to justify case for independence
A new paper launched by the Scottish Government has pointed to Wales’ treatment as part of the union in order to justify the case for independence.
The paper Renewing democracy through independence points to the way devolution has been eroded in Wales by the UK Government in order to build the case for a second Scottish independence referendum next year.
The paper launched yesterday by Nicola Sturgeon accused the UK Government of systematically undermining devolution in Wales since the Brexit vote in 2016.
“The Westminster Government’s encroachment on devolution is also being felt in Wales,” the paper says.
“Concerned by the impact of the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 on the competence of Wales’ devolved parliament, the Senedd, the Welsh Government has sought to challenge the actions of the UK Government through the courts, with the Counsel General for Wales seeking permission to take the matter to the UK Supreme Court.
“The issue at stake for the Welsh Government, as it is for the Scottish Government, is for its democratically elected parliament to legislate in devolved areas without interference from the Westminster Parliament and the UK Government.
“The impact of the ‘Westminster sovereignty’ view of the Union on the Scottish Parliament and self-government in Scotland (as well as Wales) is obvious.
“Westminster sovereignty, exercised without restraint, constrains, undermines and destabilises devolution. The Welsh Government has called this ‘grace and favour devolution’ or ‘get what you’re given devolution’.”
The paper also pointed to the fact that the Welsh Government, despite being an unionist Labour one, agreed with the SNP Scottish Government’s interpretation that they should be able to leave the union if they wanted to.
“The Scottish Government’s view, shared by the Welsh Government, is that the United Kingdom should be recognised for what it is – a voluntary union of countries,” it said.
“As the Welsh Government has put it, the law should ‘recognise the constitutional and political reality’.”
Pointing to specific examples where the UK Government had sought to roll back devolution, the paper pointed to the fact that it had “recently taken powers to decide unilaterally how to implement certain devolved elements of trade agreements”.
This amounted to “rejecting the view of both the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Senedd that agreement should be required when our devolved responsibilities are affected”.
The paper added that: “In the Scottish Government’s view – a view shared by the Welsh Government – this approach is fundamentally at odds with the devolution settlement, and cannot reasonably be described as ‘not normal’ (in the terms of the Sewel Convention) to justify overriding the views of the devolved parliaments.
“There is therefore every reason to believe that breaches of the Sewel Convention will become more frequent, if the UK Government continues to rely on such justifications to ignore the views of the Scottish Parliament.
“As the Welsh First Minister said in his evidence to the Lords Constitution Committee: ‘When it became inconvenient for the UK Government to observe Sewel, they just went ahead and rode roughshod through it. More recently, I am afraid, the Sewel convention has withered on the vine.'”
As she launched the paper yesterday, the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the UK was facing a “shift to the right” in politics whoever becomes the next Prime Minister, Nicola Sturgeon said, as she insisted independence was now “essential”.
With the Conservative Party currently in the process of electing a successor to Boris Johnson, the Nicola Sturgeon hit out at the “democratic deficit” facing voters north of the border.
Speaking at her official residence, Bute House in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon insisted: “Offering Scotland the choice of independence, particularly in the context we are in today, is essential.”
As Tory MPs seek to narrow down the candidates vying to be the next party leader and UK prime minister, Ms Sturgeon said that whoever gets the job “the change of Tory leader seems virtually certain to be accompanied by a shift even further to the right”.
This would take Westminster “even further away from the mainstream of Scottish opinion and values”, she added, raising fears of possible cuts to public services and “more posturing over Brexit” in the future.
The First Minister said: “We may be just a few days into this Tory leadership contest but it is already crystal clear the issues Scotland is focused on: tackling child poverty; supporting NHS recovery; building a fairer economy and making a just transition to net zero; will be hindered, not helped, by whoever becomes prime minister in the weeks ahead.”
The Tories have not won an election in Scotland since 1955, but Ms Sturgeon said voters north of the border had “repeatedly” returned a majority of elected representatives who support independence.
However, Nicola Sturgeon said that this was “treated as immaterial” by Westminster, adding: “You don’t have to be a supporter of independence to know that that is not democracy.”
One of Mr Johnson’s last acts before resigning was to formally refuse the First Minister’s request for Holyrood to be granted the power to have a second independence referendum – a ballot Ms Sturgeon wants to be held on October 19 2023.
The UK Supreme Court is now considering if the Scottish Parliament can stage its own consultative ballot.
Whatever happens to that case, the First Minister insisted that Westminster “must not, and will not, be allowed” to block the “right” of Scots “to have our say on independence”.
If a referendum is denied, Ms Sturgeon has set out plans for the next Westminster election to be a “de-facto” ballot on the issue.
She insisted: “While we hope and plan for a referendum, this should also be clear: if a referendum is blocked by Westminster, we will put the choice to the people of Scotland in the general election.
“Either way Scotland will have a choice.”
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