Abnormal Politics as Usual
“… it is recognised that the Parliament of the United Kingdom will not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.”
Please forgive the Independent’s choice of image for a Scottish Constitutional lawyer…and read the piece. It seems that the legal question as to whether the Scottish Parliament has a vote on invoking article 50 or not comes down to a definition of the word “normally.” Normally, you see, Scotland’s parliament has to give assent to Westminster measures that will change Scottish Law. Which Brexit would clearly do. Times a million. Or three.
So the UK government’s argument is that like a war, Brexit is an emergency. It is not normal. (At this point, I’m attempting, and failing, to resist the comment that, No…it’s not normal…it’s fecking MENTAL…)
But the only thing that makes Article 50 an emergency measure to be steamrollered over the top of devolution…is preventing the Scottish Parliament from having a vote on this matter in the first place. Devolution, which we had thought to be a stable element of the British Constitution (or at least the set of practices and precedents that substitute for such a foreign sounding thing) turns out instead to be the cause of an emergency and so must be effectively cancelled in the meantime.
Supporters of the Union who treasure the achievements of devolution…ie everyone but the Tories and Tam Dayell, theoretically …should pause to reflect that when the UK has grown up business before it…that devolution can be easily suspended. Power devolved is only a loan that is only good while circumstances permit.
“Normally” of course we’d let you have a say…but not when it really matters, appears to be the message.
This is I think, part of the developing constitutional crisis that Brexit. Despite the static opinion polls for Indy ref 2, despite the fact that a second independence referendum is very unlikely by 2019 when all this is supposed to have happened, seems increasingly far fetched a possibility, in the longer term there seems to be no way for the current “devolved settlement” of the “British Constitution” to survive, no matter what happens in the Supreme Court today.
It is probably part of the same set of masturbatory nostalgia fantasies that led to Brexit in the first place that the distasteful spectacle of devolution to the provinces be done away with. If he ever gives it a moment’s thought, there is no question in my mind that Farage and Co want to erase as a bad dream Devolution to Jockland along with Human Rights and the Barnett Formula. Lord Lawson, indeed, mused aloud that Ireland might want to re-join a post Brexit UK. There really isn’t a bottom limit to the stupidity of these people.
But do those who campaigned quite honourably for a No vote in 2014 and a Remain vote in 2016 really think it is sustainable in the long term to give their support to the creation of the New England that is being dreamed of by those with the whip hand of UK politics right now? More specifically, if it did ever come to a vote in the Scottish Parliament, I can quite see that the SNP and Greens would vote against invoking article 50 and the Tories would vote for it. The real question is what would Labour andf the Liberals do? Would they vote with the Scottish government to preserve the relationship with the EU, or vote with the Tories in favour of the Union at any economic or moral cost – including the regulation of the devolution settlement that THEY created to the sidelines of the new “normality”. Or would they actually retreat so far from responsibility or principle as to actually abstain?
Place your bets and pass the popcorn.