Theresa May to resist giving more powers to Scotland post-Brexit

SNP dismisses British prime minister’s remarks as hypocritical and surreal

British prime minister Theresa May addressing the Scottish Conservative conference at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow. Photograph: Andy Buchanan/Getty Images

British prime minister Theresa May addressing the Scottish Conservative conference at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow. Photograph: Andy Buchanan/Getty Images

 

Theresa May has warned that she will resist the devolution of further powers to Scotland after Brexit, suggesting that Westminster should take control of policies such as agriculture and fisheries, which are currently decided in Brussels and administered from Holyrood.

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has demanded that such powers should be transferred fully to her devolved administration after Britain leaves the EU.

  “We must avoid any unintended consequences for the coherence and integrity of a devolved United Kingdom as a result of our leaving the EU,” Ms May told the Scottish Conservative conference in Glasgow on Friday.

  The British prime minister suggested that Brexit would require an overhaul of the devolution arrangements agreed under Tony Blair’s Labour government.

  “The UK devolution settlements were designed in 1998 without any thought of a potential Brexit,” she said.

  “The essential common standards which underpin the operation of a single market were provided at the European level. As we bring powers and control back to the United Kingdom, we must ensure that right powers sit at the right level to ensure our United Kingdom can operate effectively and in the interests of all of its citizens, including people in Scotland.”

Further powers

Ms Sturgeon

Support for independence currently stands at about 45 per cent, which is no higher than it was before last year’s EU referendum.

  The Conservatives, who have been gaining ground in Scotland in recent months, are increasingly confident that an early referendum on independence would be defeated.

  The prime minister accused Ms Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP) of being so fixated on independence that it was failing to provide adequate services for the Scottish people.

  “People in Scotland deserve a first minister who is focused on their priorities – raising standards in education, taking care of the health service, reforming criminal justice, helping the economy prosper, improving people’s lives,” she said.

  “Instead, they have an SNP government obsessed with its own priority of independence, using the mechanisms of devolved government to further its political aims and all the while neglecting and mismanaging public services in Scotland.”

Over the cliff-edge

Angus Robertson

  “Theresa May is guilty of mind-boggling hypocrisy – it is her government’s constitutional obsession with a hard Brexit which is directly threatening Scottish jobs and livelihoods,” he said.   “In those circumstances, we have a duty to stand up for Scotland, and to have a plan in place to protect our vital national interests. And the Scottish government has a cast-iron democratic mandate for an independence referendum if that is the chosen route to protect those interests. It was a specific manifesto commitment on which the SNP was re-elected just 10 months ago.”