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Scottish parliament to hold its own vote on triggering Brexit

The Scottish Parliament will vote Tuesday on a draft law to formally trigger Brexit, a signal that the Scots want their views to be considered as the premier prepares to embark on two years of talks to leave the European Union

3 February 2017, 8:04am
Nicola Sturgeon's ruling Scottish National Party says Britain's overall decision to leave the EU last June has created the conditions for another independence vote
Nicola Sturgeon's ruling Scottish National Party says Britain's overall decision to leave the EU last June has created the conditions for another independence vote
Scotland's devolved parliament will vote on the triggering of Article 50, which formally starts the process of Britain leaving the European Union, even though its vote is not binding, the pro-independence devolved government said on Thursday.

The vote, to be held on Tuesday, is a fresh sign of tension in the three-centuries-old bond between Scotland, which voted to keep EU membership last June, and England, which voted to leave.

The Scottish government believes the Edinburgh assembly's vote will send a strong signal of Scotland's desire to retain ties with the EU, Reuters news agency reported.

The Bill, which would allow British Prime Minister Theresa May to invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, the formal trigger for exit discussions, passed its first vote in parliament in London on Wednesday. The draft law will now undergo three days of line-by-line debate in a so-called Committee Stage starting on Monday. Members of parliament have so far filled a 128-page document with scores of proposed amendments to the 137-word Bill, which will then be put to its final vote in the lower chamber, the House of Commons, before being sent up to the House of Lords.

“It is now essential that the Scottish Parliament’s views are heard prior to the end of the committee stage of the Article 50 bill in the House of Commons, so we will lodge a motion to allow Parliament to express its view,” Scottish minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe Michael Russell said on Thursday. “I believe that parliament will send a resounding message that Scotland’s future is in Europe.”

The UK’s Supreme Court ruled that an act of parliament was needed to draft a new law giving May the right to trigger Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty, rather than being able to start the process without the approval as she had intended. However, it also ruled that the consent of Britain's devolved assemblies of Scotland and Northern Ireland, who both voted to remain, and Wales, which voted to leave, was not legally necessary for the process to start.

Scots rejected independence in a referendum in 2014, but Nicola Sturgeon's ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) has said Britain's overall decision to leave the EU last June has created the conditions for another independence vote.

"The Scottish government believes that given the fundamental change to our constitutional arrangements involved by triggering formal withdrawal from the European Union, and the direct effects on the devolved responsibilities, the Scottish parliament should be invited to give its view before the Bill is passed, and that the UK Government should respect the views of the parliament," it said in a statement.