UK Withdrawal from the EU

Last week, in my capacity as convener of the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee, I spoke in the chamber during the Stage One Debate on the UK Withdrawal from the EU Bill.

I was limited in my remarks of course, but no such restrictions applied today. We spent the afternoon debating the Bill, before amendments have been considered – that will be in a marathon session tonight – which shows what a farce this process is.

As a committee convener I am exasperated that we have been afforded just three weeks to deal with this. As a parliamentarian I am furious. This stunt – and that’s what this is – has put this parliament in a very dim light.

The SNP may think they are stirring up some kind of anger through their pretend grievance. I can assure them that they are not. No one outside of the Holyrood bubble is following any of this.

We know the claims that this is an emergency are entirely bogus.

Mike Russell has a funny idea of what constitutes an emergency. He reminds me of one of those people who crop in the regular newspaper reports of those who make inappropriate 999 calls.

Like the man who said his 50p coin was stuck in a washing machine at his local launderette and wanted police to retrieve it or the woman who wanted police to deal with a pair of noisy foxes outside her home as they were preventing her from sleeping. Inconveniences yes, but not emergencies.

I pointed out that the vast majority of powers returning from Brussels will start off in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. None of the existing powers of the devolved governments will be affected in any way. That’s hardly a power grab.

If you want to see a power grab then just look at the Planning Bill – an SNP power grab.

Let’s be clear. This parliament is going to get a lot more powers on Brexit day. That’s a fact. You would think the SNP would be pleased about that.

My colleague Jackson Carlaw is a reasonable man and assures me that John Swinney and Mike Russell really want to do a deal with the UK government. I’m afraid their recent behaviour does not bear that out.

But I hope that Mr Carlaw is right and that my perception is wrong.