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Victor Clements: The Real Power Grab

Having spent some time looking at the powers that your article says will be denied to Scotland, (List of 111 powers SNP say will be denied to Scotland after Brexit, 20th September), I am left thinking that all is not what it might seem here.

The very fact that these powers lie with the EU in the first place suggests that a need has been identified for co-ordination of regulations across borders, and this is no surprise because events in any given country can affect their neighbours. This is reflected in the list, as pollution and genetically modified organisms can move, data does not recognize borders, and single markets operate best if standards and legislation are broadly comparable across the area concerned.

If these powers are being taken back from the EU to the UK, then we can expect the principles behind their existence to still apply in the new situation that will arise post Brexit, namely that what Scotland does will affect England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and vice versa.

There are probably very few powers on this list that could be devolved straight to Scotland without at least some examination of the effect of that, and without some sort of due diligence. Put more bluntly, there are probably many years of political arguments and debate to be had sorting all this out. That debate needs to be had in our various parliaments, and will no doubt be subject to the same political grandstanding that we are all getting a bit fed up with.

We cannot be having these discussions and leaving the EU at the same time. There is simply no time for it. It will have to wait. The insistence from the Scottish Government that these powers be devolved without any proper scrutiny leads me to an important conclusion, namely that the attempted power grab in all this is actually by the Scottish Government. We would of course expect a nationalist government to behave in this way. Those who believe in the UK should not jump in to any rash decisions. They should take time and take stock and work out the best way to deploy these powers when the time comes. Ms Sturgeon has form for acting too quickly and then coming to regret it.

All this is most certainly an argument for another day, and she will have to get back to the domestic agenda that she so struggles with again, whether she wants to do that or not. We cannot attribute these powers until we know exactly what they are and how they are supposed to work.

Victor Clements


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