Downing Street’s plans for distributing new post-Brexit powers among the UK nations has sparked a fresh row between the Scottish and UK governments.
This comes after London published a white paper on Thursday with proposals for how the internal UK market will operate after the Brexit transition period ends.
What does the White Paper say?
The UK government’s white paper unveiled plans that would see Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments handed powers in areas such as air quality and animal welfare, that were previously regulated by the EU, after the Brexit transition period ends.
These are part of measures to legislate an internal market that would see goods move freely within the country following the termination of the Brexit transition period that ends on 31 December.
In particular, Downing Street proposed that food labelling, energy efficiency and support for farmers be controlled by Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Each member of the commonwealth will also have to agree to accept goods from other parts of the UK, even if they have different local standards. This is to ensure a “level playing field” in the UK internal market, according to London.
Scotland seems to be against
Cabinet Officer Michael Gove insisted that “a score of new powers” would be transferred to the Scottish government.
But Scottish Constitution Secretary Mike Russell described this as a “lie”, saying that powers would really be taken away.
"The list of powers that's been issued by the UK government is simply dishonest. It's one of the most shocking pieces of dishonesty I've seen from a government", Russell said. "It's a mishmash of things the Scottish Parliament already has, things they've already decided we won't have because of the frameworks, and things that could be automatically overridden by a decision by the UK government to take a power away."
The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, described the plans as “the greatest assault on devolution” since Holyrood reconvened in 1999.
Don't listen to the spin- this is the greatest assault on devolution since its inception. The Scot Gov will only be allowed to legislate in certain areas with the approval of Westminster with these plans. We can't stand for this, we won't be dragged down with their sinking ship pic.twitter.com/UKTbAYEXJE— Ian Blackford (@Ianblackford_MP) July 16, 2020
Blackford worries that “a reduction of standards in one part of the UK” will drive down standards in other regions, and accused the Conservative government of “selling out UK food standards” in return for a US trade deal.
His comments refer to the UK government’s proposed dual tariff regime that could see products such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef imported from the US as part of a proposed trade deal.