Calls for alternative to ‘unacceptable’ Brexit bill

Constitution secretary Mike Russell is calling for 'common frameworks' instead of the legislation.

A Scottish Government minister is calling for an alternative to an ‘unacceptable’ internal market bill for the UK post-Brexit.

Constitution secretary Mike Russell will use a meeting between the UK Government and the devolved administrations to press for “common frameworks” to instead take the place of the controversial legislation.

The Scottish Government has already pledged to fight “tooth and nail” against the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill, claiming it amounts to a Westminster “power grab”.

In contrast, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has insisted the measures will provide a “power surge” to Holyrood.

Mr Russell said the Scottish Government’s alternative plan, for common frameworks to be used as a basis for internal market regulations once the Brexit transition period comes to an end, was “based on the idea of partnership and agreement rather than imposition”.

He added that “good progress” had been made on this “which shows that the UK Government’s internal market proposals are unnecessary”

Mr Russell, speaking ahead of a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations, said: “I want to see the four administrations working through and agreeing common frameworks – with good will and commitment this can be achieved.

“I hope that UK ministers can agree to this approach and work with us to implement common frameworks during what remains of the transition period and, where necessary, into 2021.

“In doing so, it will mean the UK Government can abandon their unacceptable internal market plans which would effectively impose standards in devolved policy areas regardless of the wishes of the people of Scotland and laws passed by the Scottish Parliament.”

A UK Government spokeswoman said: “The devolved administration in Scotland walked away from work on the UK internal market in Spring 2019, furthermore, in spite of offers, we were looking at only a handful of frameworks being completed by the end of the transition period, which would be insufficient to protect jobs and companies in the UK.

“Our proposals will ensure the continued free flow of goods and services across every part of the UK, while respecting devolution.

“Many Scottish businesses depend on trade with other parts of the UK – worth more than £50bn a year and accounting for more than 60% of all exports.

“Our proposals to safeguard the UK internal market are complementary to our ongoing work to develop UK-wide frameworks. It is disappointing that the devolved administration have been slow to engage in this work.”

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