Davidson ‘frustrated’ by Brexit bill delay


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Ruth Davidson has expressed her frustration at the delay in the UK government bringing forward amendments to its EU withdrawal bill.

The Scottish Conservative leader said she would be discussing the issue with the prime minister on Monday.

But she said amending the contentious Clause 11 of the bill was "complex" and had taken longer than expected.

The government has promised to change the bill to take account of concerns over its impact on devolution.

The Scottish and Welsh Governments have said they cannot recommend that the legislation be granted consent in its current form, which would see EU responsibilities in devolved areas initially transferred to Westminster

But it emerged earlier this week that the bill will not now happen until the Brexit bill leaves the House of Commons and goes to the Lords.

The announcement was met with anger from the Scottish government, while several Scottish Conservative MPs and MSPs expressed their surprise and disappointment.

Speaking to the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme, Ms Davidson said she shared that frustration, and that she wished an agreement over the changes to the Brexit bill had already been "nailed down".

She said the devolved administrations wanted Clause 11 to be "replaced and rewritten", but that had it had "never been done before" and was "quite complex to do".

Ms Davidson added: "I'm frustrated that it's not happened already. The work that's going on between the civil servants of the UK government and the Scottish government is taking longer than we had thought and anticipated and I find that frustrating.

"It also requires political input as well, so ministers are talking as well – one of the very first phone calls that David Lidington made when he became the new Cabinet Secretary in charge of part of the guts of Brexit was to (deputy first minister) John Swinney to have that discussion.

"I know that colleagues have sat down with (Scottish Brexit minister) Mike Russell as well. I'm going down to see the prime minister."

Incompatible with devolution

The Scottish government's view that the Brexit bill is currently incompatible with devolution was backed earlier this week by a cross-party Holyrood committee, which included Scottish Conservative members.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell had previously said the changes aimed at addressing their concerns would be introduced next week, during the report stage in the House of Commons.

When it emerged that the timetable had been delayed, the Scottish government announced that it was likely to introduce its own EU Continuity Bill at Holyrood in February.

It said the move was needed to prepare Scotland's laws for EU withdrawal if it was not possible to find agreement over the UK government's own Brexit bill.

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