Angus Robertson labels state of the union 'unfit for purpose'
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Former SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson, who was elected as an MSP in the May Scottish elections, attacked the UK for being “unfit for purpose” as he claimed Westminster, under the guise of Brexit, has been able to limit and steal power from devolved nations. He said the Internal Market Bill has allowed the UK to veto devolved powers making decisions on things such as food standards despite Scotland voting to remain in the European Union. He suggested that the benefits of living in Scotland, like free university tuition and other healthcare benefits, could be under threat by the Westminster Government if Scotland does not become independent.
Speaking to the Constitution Committee, Mr Robertson discussed the current state of the union and the future of Scotland’s governance.
He told the committee: “In a nutshell, I would probably say that the current state of the union is unfit for purpose.
“And the United Kingdom government is using Brexit, which Scots voted against, to undermine devolution, which Scots voted for.
“I think the context is important to understand in all of this.
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“People in Scotland voted overwhelmingly to set up the Scottish Parliament after years of Westminster governments ignoring people’s wishes here.
“and imposing what most people would view as unwelcome and damaging policies.
“So devolution has improved people’s lives in Scotland measurably and it has delivered governments they’ve chosen.
“In certain policy areas there have been very substantial improvements – take for example, health and education.
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“So with our own Parliament, we’ve seen the introduction of free personal care, of university tuition fees being abolished and nobody in Scotland now is charged for prescriptions.
“Now all of these things, both the democratic aspect and the policy aspect, is being put at risk.
“Because the mantra of taking back control that we’ve heard from the UK government in recent years is not just related to the European Union it’s related to Scotland.
“It’s also a view shared by colleagues in Wales as well, so Brexit is being used as an excuse to rewrite, to undermine the devolution settlement.”
Mr Robertson says the Internal Market Bill, passed when the UK left the EU, undermines the devolved powers of Scotland and Wales.
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He explains the bill means Westminster can essentially veto devolved powers/decisions on goods as a universal standard must be followed by all four nations of the UK.
It was an attempt by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ensure there was some universality with standards to avoid confusing and timely movement of goods into the UK.
The Welsh government attempted to launch legal challenges against the bill as they feared their high good standards could be diminished to the lowest common denominator.
The challenge was blocked by the courts as they deemed it too premature.
Mr Robertson added the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK is not equal and would welcome an equal partnership that is not dominated by Westminster.
But the SNP heavyweight suggested Westminster did not want to be equal but “in control” which has hampered the working relationship between the two countries.
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