Scottish Parliament: Boris Johnson must realize the purpose of decentralization was to allow Scotland to do things differently – Angus Robertson MSP
The harsh realities of Brexit are becoming clearer every day. Labor shortages mean farmers cannot pick their crops. World-famous Scottish seafood is struggling to reach lucrative EU markets due to Brexit bureaucracy.
We are told to expect a continued summer of shortages on the supermarket shelves as there are not enough carriers now that we have left the EU.
While the outcome seems far removed from promises that Brexit would allow the UK to ‘take back control’, there is one area where the UK government has worked hard to assert control – on the powers of the democratically elected Scottish Parliament. .
This is most evident in its Home Market Act, which effectively gives the UK government a veto over the powers of the Scottish Parliament.
He does it in an elegant way. Holyrood can still pass devolved laws on matters such as animal welfare, food standards or the environment, but if the UK government introduces different rules, these must automatically be accepted in Scotland, even if they are below the standards set here.
Take the global plastics crisis. The Scottish government is committed to taking action to reduce our dependence on single-use plastic, and environmental policy is a devolved issue.
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In 2019, Scotland became the first nation in the UK to ban plastic-stemmed cotton swabs. There is strong support for market restrictions on single-use plastics. In a recent consultation, 94 percent of individuals were in favor of a ban and among organizations the proportion ranged from 76 to 91 percent.
The Scottish Government intends to build on this and the voluntary steps already taken by businesses and services across the country to switch to more sustainable products and phase out other single-use plastic items.
However, the UK Single Market Act risks undermining these ambitions: while we could ban or restrict the sourcing or manufacture of locally produced single-use plastic if lower standards apply elsewhere in the UK, the law would mean that these standards must be accepted in Scotland. Having to accept lower standards set elsewhere in the UK means diluting our efforts to tackle the scourge of single-use plastics on the Scottish environment.
Fortunately, there is another way to approach this. Since 2017, the Scottish Government has sought to work with other UK governments to develop common frameworks – working methods to agree on how we deal with differences in approach on issues such as the environment where we previously worked in accordance with EU rules.
This model of progress by agreement between equal partners is the right way to deal with political differences across the UK: being able to do things differently is, after all, the purpose of decentralization.
In recent weeks, I have met with officials and ministers in London and Edinburgh to push forward the framework agreements.
The Scottish Government is pushing the UK Government to respect decentralization and allow our Parliament to make meaningful choices that work for Scotland, and not to see those choices undermined by Internal Market law.
Hurry up. Hopefully the British government will keep its commitments.
Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and the Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture