John Swinney: “Boris Johnson uses Brexit to undermine Holyrood”
Decentralization is “emptied” by Boris Johnson, who secretly wants to take back the powers of deconcentrated parliaments, claim John Swinney.
The Scottish Deputy Prime Minister will tell the SNP conference to “stand up and be counted before it is too late” to defend decentralization.
Mr Swinney is expected to tell members that the Tory government wants “unhindered Westminster control over Scotland” and is using Brexit to undermine decentralization.
But his comments have been dismissed as “just plain absurd” by the UK government.
In a virtual speech, he will argue that “the only way to keep the gains of decentralization is to become independent” and suggest that decisions made at Holyrood “can be regularly undermined on a whim by the conservatives”.
Mr Swinney is expected to say, “We are now seeing a concerted attack on our parliament, from the very people who fought tooth and nail against its creation in the first place.”
“In a grotesque irony, the Tories are using something that the Scottish people voted overwhelmingly against – Brexit – to undermine something they voted overwhelmingly for – the Scottish Parliament.
“Thanks to the Internal Market Law, the Conservatives have given themselves absolute power to decide the rules of the Internal Market – and to ignore the devolution regulation altogether if they wish.”
Stating that the Prime Minister might wish to reverse devolution, Mr Swinney will add: “There will be no sudden Big Bang moment, Boris Johnson is not going to stand up and announce to the enthusiastic Tory loyalists that he is dismantling the settlement of devolution – much like I’m sure he would like.
“But make no mistake – little by little devolution is being quietly trimmed, carved out from within by a Conservative party that has always opposed the idea of anything other than Westminster’s unhindered control over Scotland.
“Just like the climate emergency, which slowly invades us every day, we must issue a code red for decentralization.
“All of us who care so much about the Scottish Parliament and its role in Scottish public life must stand up and be counted before it is too late.”
A spokeswoman for the UK government said: “This is just nonsense.
“The Home Market Bill ensures that vital trade can continue seamlessly between all corners of the UK.
“Now more than ever, Scots want to see the British and Scottish governments working together to protect lives and livelihoods.
“The pandemic and our collective response – from the leave plan to purchasing vaccines and supporting our military personnel – have shown that we are at our best when we work together. ”