Alex Salmond: Scottish Parliament cannot block Brexit

Posted By: June 28, 2016

Alex Salmond says Scotland cannot block Brexit

The Telegraph.Monday, June 27,  2016 .

Alex Salmond has admitted the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to block Brexit and insisted that Nicola Sturgeon never suggested she had a veto.

  The former first minister, who described his successor’s leadership since the EU vote as “inspiring”, said Westminster was able to override any move by Holyrood to deny “legislative consent”.

  Ms. Sturgeon said on Sunday that the Scottish Parliament could try to block the UK leaving the EU by using the obscure legal mechanism, even if it infuriated the English.

  Legislative consent motions (LCMs) are passed by the devolved administrations to say they agree that Westminster can legislate on devolved matters.

  According to a Lords briefing note, Scotland would have to agree to Brexit in order to remove European legislation from Scots law and Ms. Sturgeon said the Scottish Parliament had the option of not voting for something “that’s against Scotland’s interests”.

  However, Mr. Salmond said she knew “full well” that it was not a veto, adding: “The word veto never passed her lips because Westminster has an override. So the Scottish Parliament can block but Westminster can then override.”

  He told BBC Radio Scotland: “Now of course, there are political implications for that. But the Scotland Act is quite clear, there is a Westminster override. It is not a veto but Nicola was correct to say it can withhold legislative consent.”

  He added that the First Minister, who has warned a second independence referendum is “highly likely” in the next two years, was “playing an absolute blinder” and was right to take things “step by step”.

  “She’s the only politician over the last few days who looks like she knows what she’s doing and is setting a clear course,” he said.

  “The negotiations that she is opening across Europe with European leaders, with European institutions, while Westminster is in chaos, are to  try and establish how do you secure Scotland’s position on Europe, that is the mandate that she received from the people last Thursday.

  “If the answer to that is the only way you can do that is through independence, then she brings the independence referendum off the table and very much on the cards.”

  Mr. Salmond said Scotland was in a new situation and many Labour and Conservative voters had been considering over the weekend what they would do if they had to choose between the UK and the EU, adding: “Many people are coming to the conclusion if they had to choose they would choose the EU.”

  Meanwhile, a new poll found that Scotland would vote for independence if a snap referendum was held immediately.

  The Survation poll for the Daily Record found 48 percent in favor of breaking up Britain and 41 percent opposed, with “don’t knows” accounting for nine per cent. With the “don’t knows” removed from the figures, the split is 54 per cent for Yes and 46 per cent for No.

  David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, accused Ms. Sturgeon of  “opportunism” in a bid to further her “independence agenda”.

  He said the arguments for Scotland being part of the UK remained “as compelling today as they were in 2014”.

  But he sidestepped the question of whether Westminster would grant the powers for a second independence referendum to be held.

  He told BBC Radio Scotland: “What I’ve said is there are two questions. One question is could there be another referendum? Of course, there could, that’s a process issue.

  “Should there be another referendum? That’s a quite different issue, and my view is that there should not be another independence referendum.

  “I think it’s very, very unhelpful that at this moment, where we do look to bring stability, that virtually the first thing that is mentioned by the First Minister before the ink had even dried on the declaration of the result in the EU referendum is independence.

  “I think a lot of people in Scotland will have taken a step back and think this is just opportunism in terms of trying to exploit a situation of uncertainty to push the independence agenda.”

  Asked whether Westminster would stand in the way of the First Minister holding such a referendum, or whether it would grant the Section 30 order to pave the way for such a ballot, he said: “What I’m going to do is argue that there shouldn’t be another independence referendum.”