Thursday 16 July 2020

The SNP's claim of a power grab is mere prejudice

Nicola Sturgeon may not have an anti-English bone in her body, but her party is certainly anti-British. This has never been more clearly illustrated than in the SNP’s reaction to Brexit delivering new powers to the Scottish Parliament. Holyrood is to receive one hundred and eleven new powers. It is to lose zero powers that it has at present. Yet this is described by the SNP as a power grab.

Because Britain is leaving the European Union powers that previously were reserved to Brussels over which people throughout Britain had minimal democrat control are now going to be controlled by the British Parliament and the devolved parliaments. Where previously the European Commission would decide an issue now it is will be British voters and their parliamentary representatives.

 If the SNP got its wish and Scotland became independent within the European Union, every one of these new powers would go back to Brussels. Scottish law would once more be subordinate to European Union law and Scotland would put itself on a pathway to “ever closer union” with other EU member states and at the same time make a promise, which perhaps it would not intend to keep, of establishing a Scottish currency and joining the Exchange Rate Mechanism II as did Bulgaria and Croatia last week.

But what are the SNP complaining about. What is this supposed power grab that grabs no powers?

They are complaining because the British Government has in a White Paper issued on 16th July 2020 legislated to protect the UK’s Internal Market to allow trade to take place within the UK without any barriers.

The SNP was a big fan of the EU’s Single Market. But the Single Market required rules and regulations from Brussels in order that goods and services had the same standards across the EU. This makes perfect sense. Without these laws the Single Market would not work.

The British Government is doing exactly the same thing with regard to our Internal Market which is far more vital to Scotland than the Single Market because we trade much more with the other parts of Britain than we do with the European Union.

The SNP are complaining because they think this breaches one of the principles of devolution that devolved matters are not normally decided by the British Government.

When the Scottish Parliament receives the powers that used to be reserved to Brussels and which kept the Single Market running smoothly, it could decide to have different standards from the rest of Britain with regard to any devolved power. These include agriculture, fisheries and food, transport and the environment.

The UK Government instead is legislating for mutual recognition and non-discrimination across Britain so as to maintain the integrity of Britain’s Internal Market and prevent trade barriers within Britain that have never previously existed since 1707.  

In order for Britain to develop trade deals with other countries we need to be able to negotiate as one. It will simply be impossible to negotiate if each part of Britain has different standards and each part can reject a trade deal if they dislike one sentence or indeed one comma.

We have seen recently how Nicola Sturgeon delights in not being a rubber stamp. She and her party would choose to differ on everything they could just for the sake of it.

But if differing standards applied in Scotland than in the other parts of Britain, then there would have to be an internal border that administered this difference. Perhaps Cornish pasties wouldn’t meet Sturgeon’s standards. She could organise a Corish pasty party and throw them into a Scottish harbour.

To support the right of the European Union to coordinate the Single Market, which Sturgeon thinks is vital for Scotland, but deny the right of the British Government to coordinate the UK’s Internal market is to show that while Sturgeon may not be anti-English, she is anti-British.

Why is it just fine for decisions in Brussels to be made without any democratic accountability from Scotland, but a power grab if similar decisions are made in Westminster where Scottish people have exactly the same degree of representation as everyone else in Britain?

This amounts to Brussels good, Westminster bad. But why is this if it isn’t because the SNP are anti-Britain and anti-British people, most of whom of course are English.

The Scottish Parliament is going to lose not one single power that it uses at present. Instead it is gaining more than a hundred new powers. Already the SNP encroaches on reserved powers such as foreign affairs and the constitution by attempting to negotiate directly with the EU and threatening to unilaterally assert power over independence.

The British Parliament is sovereign and can amend conventions on devolution as it pleases. No one could foresee when the Scottish Parliament was set up that Britain would leave the EU. Whether we are for leaving or against this we cannot allow the redistribution of EU powers to create a situation where devolved parliaments can leverage their powers to create internal borders and disrupt trade both within the UK and without by hindering our ability to make deals with others.

It is simply illogical for the SNP to support measures that the EU makes to maintain the integrity of the EU Single Market while opposing the British Government doing exactly the same. It is mere prejudice.