In the Evening Standard, readership 787 000, in February 2020, Ruth Davidson, or more likely a Tory adviser, is given a platform to misrepresent the Scottish Government and to defend the UK Internal Market.
It’s a sad appearance from the figure who once gained popularity among ‘remainer’ Londoners with her robust attacks on the current PM but will clearly do anything in her campaign for a place in the Lords.
The article, allegedly written by Davidson, is clearly just a free-ride in a large circulation free newspaper to promote the Johnson regime’s agenda and to take a swipe at the all-too-popular SNP.
Here’s the gist:
What the UK Government is seeking to do is ensure these outcomes across the UK. So something manufactured in Brent can be sold without issue in Bangor or Belfast, and that no politician anywhere can help a company or sector in one part of the UK in a way that damages companies elsewhere on these islands. The SNP has already called this a “power grab” and is cranking up the grievance machine. Expect to see a number of flushed and furious SNP talking heads on politics programmes in the coming days, echoing their leader who has called it “a blatant move to erode the powers of the Scottish Parliament in key areas”. It’s quite the charge. Especially regarding a Bill designed to make sure no one part of the country has an unfair advantage over another. And, as much as the SNP enjoy guerrilla politics — finding traps and ambushes with which to snipe away at Westminster — I fear they’re on less than firm footing.
Needless to say the article has no space to explain the Scottish Government’s reservations. The Institute for Government outlines them:
International trade is a reserved power. This means the UK government has exclusive responsibility for signing new trade deals by which the whole of the UK will be bound. The Scottish and Welsh governments have repeatedly complained about their lack of involvement in negotiations, but the UK government has yet to set out what role, if any, the devolved administrations will have in the process of agreeing new deals.
But the devolved administrations have responsibility for many of the areas – including controversial aspects such as food standards – that will be covered by any future deal. So, once the deals are concluded, there is a risk that the devolved administrations could refuse to implement parts of them.
So, on top of commons frameworks, the UK government wants to create enforceable legal protections for the internal market, with a white paper expected in the coming weeks and legislation in the autumn. This could see the creation of a separate body with the power to strike down any laws that it determined to be a threat to the internal market. It also proposes to borrow a concept from the EU – “mutual recognition of rules”. This would mean goods that meet English standards would have to be accepted in Scotland and Wales.
The UK government’s proposals will also have significant implications for devolution. The Scottish government is concerned that a statutory ‘test’, set out in UK law, would unduly constrain the powers of the Scottish parliament, as bills passed by the Scottish parliament could be blocked if they did not meet this test.
The evening standard is owned by Alexander Lebedev and was until recently edited by George Osborne but is now edited by Emily Sheffield, sister-in-law of David Cameron.
Ah, doesn’t the UK’s free independent press, talking truth to power, make your heart swell with pride?