Earlier this year Scotland’s Brexit Minister, Mike Russell of the SNP, accused the UK Government of seeking to ‘turn the clock back to 1973 . . . to redesign devolution, as if the UK had never been in the EU, Common Market or European Community’.

For many of a certain age, a Life on Mars-style transportation back to a time of national sovereignty, glam-rock and politically incorrect sitcoms has undoubted appeal – one wistful attraction being the absence of a Scottish Parliament, currently with a Nationalist First Minister continuously preoccupied with how to engineer separation from the UK.


When Russell made his hyperbolic claim in March, it was part of his explanation why Scotland had controversially passed its own Brexit Bill. Ostensibly to protect devolved powers, at the time it appeared to be a sabre-rattling negotiating tactic ahead of the UK Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill coming to Holyrood for approval. However, whereas the Welsh Assembly accepted subsequent concessions and gave the Bill the nod, on May 15 the MSPs dug in, with all but the Scottish Tories voting against the Brexit legislation.

The defeat at Holyrood came soon after there had been a further round of mischievous amendments in the Lords, all changes to the Bill intended to prevent any meaningful Brexit. Among other things, the peers have voted to remove the exit date and prohibit leaving without an approved deal, the combined effect of which potentially extends negotiations ad infinitum and traps the country in purgatory until eventually we capitulate and ask the EU for salvation. The recent defeat at Holyrood adds to the impression that all impetus is now with the Brexit-blockers.

In 2016 Scotland voted 62:38 to Remain, but contrary to the expectation of the Nationalists, the UK-wide vote to quit the EU did not produce a surge in demand for Scottish separation, leaving the SNP to foment discord in other ways. Framing the Withdrawal Bill as an assault by Westminster on the devolved parliament has become the Nats’ latest wheeze.

Admittedly, the dissenting votes at Holyrood were not solely those of the informal coalition between the SNP and its nationalist Mini-Me, the Scottish Green Party: MSPs from both Labour and the LibDems also vetoed the Withdrawal Bill, for which Tory MP Ross Thomson labelled them ‘midwives for the SNP’s crusade to tear apart the Union’. The likelihood is that these supposedly Unionist parties backed the separatists less out of principle and more expediently to avoid being on the same losing side of the vote as the Scottish Conservatives: even now, Scottish Leftists still cite ‘voting with the Tories’ as an act of traitorous collaboration.

The confected dispute concerns the arrangement for post-Brexit repatriation of powers in devolved areas of policy, the majority of which will automatically pass to Edinburgh and Cardiff. But for a small proportion, including key matters such as agriculture, fisheries and food standards, the UK Government intends temporarily to retain primacy until it has re-established new UK-wide frameworks; the SNP portrays this as a ‘power grab’ by Westminster.

To clarify: having previously been unconcerned that these totemic powers resided with its beloved EU, over which the Scottish Government has minimal influence, the Scots Nats now feign horror that a small proportion could temporarily be retained by Westminster – where the SNP has, and almost certainly will continue to enjoy, a disproportionately large representation. All of which merely confirms that, rather than a responsible governing party, the SNP remains primarily a reflexive anti-UK protest group.

Inclusion of a sunset clause restricting to two years the power of Westminster to make new rules, with the life of any such regulations limited to a further five years, had satisfied the Welsh Assembly. Although Mike Russell insists there no disagreement with the First Minister, various political correspondents reported their belief that this concession had also mollified Russell only for him to be overruled by his boss. To which Scottish Secretary of State David Mundell dryly commented: ‘To be fair to Mike Russell, he has never led us to believe that there is any other decision-maker in the Scottish Government than Nicola Sturgeon.’

Lest you think that Scotland’s governing party is a dictatorship, in mitigation please note that the SNP does also have a powerful chief executive named Peter Murrell . . . husband of Nicola Sturgeon.

Once the SNP had flagged that it intended to reject the Bill, the First Minister put her name to several of what Tory MSP Murdo Fraser called ‘hysterical newspaper articles claiming that the UK Conservatives are intent on demolishing devolution’.

Never one to understate her case, in a piece for the Sunday Herald Nicola Sturgeon warned: ‘We should be under no illusions how extensive that power grab could be – the Tory proposal would see Westminster hold the whip hand over devolved powers for up to seven years. Who knows what that could mean – imagine Jacob Rees-Mogg as Prime Minister trampling all over Holyrood’s authority and rolling back devolution.’

This hypothesis might actually be more popular, on both sides of the border, than Sturgeon dares to imagine; sadly, it will remain a fantasy. Not that this prevents the SNP from picking an abstract fight with a hypothetical future government.

As a scare tactic, Sturgeon even summoned the spectre of The Donald, claiming the ‘power grab’ could result in ‘Trump’s America’ – not just America, note, but Trump’s America – subjecting us to ‘chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef’. Here in the Land of Deep-Fried Pizza such abominable foodstuffs would never do.

At PMQs one day after the defeat at Holyrood, the SNP’s Ian Blackford asked Theresa May to ‘reassure the House that the Withdrawal Bill will not go through without the consent of the Scottish Parliament’. Although this is not a constitutional necessity, May’s automated response was characteristically timid; however, it is a matter in which she must be prepared to counter further grandstanding by the SNP’s chief grievance-monger Nicola Sturgeon.

The veteran Jim Sillars, former deputy leader of the SNP and consistently a principled eurosceptic, recently described the Scottish Government as a ‘one-person show in which the First Minister calls not only the tune, but writes the verses’. Her blocking of the EU Withdrawal Bill has become Nicola Sturgeon’s latest separatist dirge.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Sturgeon is like a spoiled child who because she never got her way in the Scotts independence Referendum, she will now scweem and scweem and scweem – until she gets the attention she feels is her due. She is nothing more than a low grade bully who only huffs and puffs because “mummy” lets her get away with it.
    But to be brutally honest I think the title of “Brexit – wrecker in Chief” still belongs to our blessed Theresa who’s – inertia, lack of imagination, lack of political judgement, political weakness and sheer incompetence have now put us in a position where the Remainers like Sturgeon are emboldened to do what they do best (which is destroying democracy) and given the EU negotiators the confidence to say “Non”

  2. Well, according to Scotland’s Sunday Post the SNP is planning an economic blueprint for a new post-Scottish independence currency – the ‘Scottish pound’, I was surprised to read. Given that Nicola Sturgeon and the upper echelons of the SNP have consistently said they would seek to rejoin the European Union, an independent Scotland would have to follow the ‘normal accession criteria’ for membership. Scotland cannot succeed the UK as a member state, so whatever deal Scotland currently enjoys as part of the UK, would not be on the table. Scotland would be applying as a new entity, which means accepting the Common Fisheries Policy, the Strasbourg travelling circus, the Common Agricultural Policy and, of course, the euro as its currency.
    I’m sure that the rather more prosaic Scottish people will be overjoyed at the prospect of fighting the old Brexit battles of the 2016 referendum all over again in order to please HMQ Sturgeon !

  3. The Scot Nats are essentially prostitutes, available for whoever will give them the most cash.
    The UK, essentially, the English, subsidise them massively & they thank us by discriminating against us, most obviously over university fees.
    Decent Scots, the majority, wish to be part of the UK.
    The Nats are like teenagers up there in their sulky bedroom demanding more & more from any adults who will humour them.

  4. The SNP is like a parent hating, stroppy teenager who wants their own flat but knows they’ll have to rely on Mum & Dad to pay for it. Ever needy of someone else’s cash to continue to bribe the voters, the SNP now seeks a surrogate parent in the EU.

  5. “Sturgeon the Brexit wrecker-in-chief” – that’s one heck of a claim, given that I can think of at least 10 people who could contend with her for that title.

  6. Nicola Sturgeon and the permanent drench, storm clouds of Celtic pinched maudlin and where she does wallow, long.

  7. ‘Scotland’ did not vote 62:38 Remain, just as London did not vote to Remain. The referendum was a United Kingdom referendum in which the whole of the country voted and Leave won. Scotland must just put up with that in the same way that England had to put up with Labour governments foisted on them by Scottish voters.

    Had Remain won we would not now be experiencing incessant whingeing that so-and-so municipality voted to Leave. Stop it.

  8. The true nature of the SNP was revealed on QT by that odious actor Brian Cox when he was challenged as to why, if unions between countries made them better and stronger, the SNP wanted to remain in the European Union but to leave the Union of Scotland and England within the United Kingdom.

    His reply confirmed the essential Anglophobia, the racism, the hate, that lies at the heart of the SNP.

  9. Another of evil Blair’s “wreck the union” schemes.
    Both new assemblies should be abolished.

  10. The wrecker in chief isn’t Sturgeon, but May. May will see Brexiteer hollowed out to nothing before Sturgeon ever does.

  11. In 2016 Scotland voted 62:38 to Remain,

    No, no, no, no and no it didn’t !!!!!

    In 2016 it was the UK that clearly voted to Leave. The 2016 EU Referendum vote was a UK-wide vote, and should be seen as such. Ignoring the collective will of the whole of the UK is what the remoaners have been doing since the result was known on the 24th June 2016 – in one of their many ongoing attempts to water down and delegitimise the whole result.

    That this view is perpetuated on a supposedly ‘conservative’ platform is irresponsible to say the least, and gives further credence to remoaners’ efforts to ignore the result.

    This perpetuation of delegitimisation narrative is also mirrored in Theresa May’s remainer-heavy approach of having something for the remainers in the Brexit outcome, as if the UK could leave, yet stay. Bonkers doesn’t come close.

    Shame on the Conservative Woman.

  12. This is a straight-up wrecking manoeuvre which defies any logical, rational or legal explanation. They know it, we know it, everyone knows it. If May had any cojones she would just call it out for the indulgent gibberish it is and tell SNP drones to their face in Parliament that ‘this Act will be passed by this place, come what may’, but she won’t and she can’t, because she’s riding the Stop Brexit train as well.

  13. “For many of a certain age, a Life on Mars-style transportation back to a time of national sovereignty, glam-rock and politically incorrect sitcoms has undoubted appeal –”
    or simply do not want to be governed by some foreign committee.

  14. Since all the parties in Scotland supported Remain. why should Scotland get any additional powers when we leave the EU over farming and fishing when, if we had remained in the EU, those powers would have been continued to be exercised by the EU with their support?

    The Tories in Scotland should have campaigned to leave the EU on the basis that leaving the EU would bring Scotland control of farming and fishing policy which the SNP strongly opposed! That would have shown up the SNP’s claims for wanting an independent Scotland within the EU to be the contradiction in terms that it clearly is.

    As it happens a 38% vote in Scotland to leave the EU in the face of universal support from all the major Scottish politicians to remain in the EU is an extraordinary achievement and a slap in the face of all establishment politicians in Scotland. The leave vote was only 7% below the 45% vote for Scottish independence and that was only achieved after 2 years of active campaigning for independence by the SNP taking the initiative against a very lack lustre “better together” campaign led by the Labour Party.

  15. This will just drag on and on. It needs to be brought to a head. The British parliament should insist on an immediate referendum on the Union. The terms simple . Leave or stay and if the former a clean break and then Scotland can do whatever it wants on the clear understanding that it will then be treated exactly like France and be subject to borders and customs .
    Sometimes you need to be cruel to be kind.

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