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The European Union (Continuity) Scotland Bill aims to give ministers powers to align Scottish laws with those of the EU after Brexit. It would also establish Environmental Standards Scotland (ESS) to replace the EU’s oversight of environmental law.
Following a vote in Holyrood, 87 MSPs voted in favour of the legislation while 27 votes mainly from the Scottish Conservatives.
Westminster has cast doubts over the decision, stressing UK trade could be severely impacted whilst Brussels has also warned about the effectiveness of the decision.
A Whitehall source told Express.co.uk: “The decision would severely disrupt trade in the UK causing potential chaos and creating barriers.
“We cannot understand why this legislation was passed, causing separation and further issues rather than collaborating.”
An EU official added: “We respect Scotland’s position but we are negotiating with the UK government.
“The legislation to some degree is not efficient and could cause problems but we observe their [Scotland’s] actions closely.”
Dean Lockhart, the Scottish Conservatives Constitution spokesperson branded the Bill as a “power grab” by SNP government ministers.
Speaking in Holyrood, the MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife argued it would “lead to Scotland becoming a regulatory no man’s land” with increased costs for businesses and consumers.
Mr Lockhart said: “Following the additional restrictions announced earlier today, the priority for this Parliament must be to protect jobs and livelihoods and rebuild Scotland’s economy.
“Instead, however, we are debating a continuity Bill that will do the opposite.
“Legislation that will impose barriers to trade, increase the cost of doing business and, ultimately, I’m afraid it will cost jobs and livelihoods across Scotland.
“Because there’s no doubt this legislation will damage Scotland’s trade with the rest of the UK and beyond.”
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However, Constitution Secretary Mike Russell described the Bill as a “modest measure” to align laws and environmental standards.
He added: “The people of Scotland did not choose Brexit, they certainly didn’t choose this sort of disastrous no-deal Brexit, which is still a real possibility.
“Nor did they choose the equally bad low deal, which is the only alternative left on the table.
“That low deal is a painfully thin, job-destroying ideological muddle, which – if imposed in the middle of a global pandemic – the deep recession will cost every one of us dear.
“It beggars belief that any responsible government would even consider it, still less choose it.”
The Bill was previously scrutinised by cross-party SNP, Labour, Lib Dem and Tory MSP’s on Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee who stressed to Scottish ministers that more clarity would be needed on how they would exercise such a power but backed the initial reasoning of the Bill.
It comes after the analysis of a study examining public opinion across the country found the pursuit of Brexit was undermining support for Scotland remaining in the UK.
The Scottish Centre for Social Research found before the pandemic, all of those who shifted towards a pro-independence view had positive opinions of the EU.
Professor Sir John Curtice and Ian Montagu also found most Scots are pessimistic about the consequences of Brexit.
Sir John, Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde, said: “For a while after the EU referendum, it looked as though the lack of support for Brexit in Scotland was failing to move the dial on public opinion about independence.
“Over time, however, the pursuit of Brexit has weakened many people’s views of the merits of the union.
“For a significant body of people in Scotland, independence inside the EU has now come to look more attractive than being part of a UK that is outside the EU.”
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