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7 Feb, 2017 13:04

Scottish parliament rejects triggering of Brexit in symbolic vote

Scottish parliament rejects triggering of Brexit in symbolic vote

The Scottish parliament has voted against invoking Article 50, formally opposing the UK government starting the Brexit process.

In a non-binding vote, the MSPs voted 90 to 34 to oppose the UK government triggering Article 50.

MSPs were voting on a Scottish government motion that argued the UK government’s European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) bill currently making its way through the Commons should not proceed.

The motion said the UK government has “refused to give a guarantee on the position of EU nationals in the UK, has left unanswered a range of detailed questions covering many policy areas regarding the full implications of withdrawal of the single market, and has provided no assurance that a future parliamentary vote on the outcome of the negotiations will be anything other than irrelevant.”

The motion is not a legal obstacle for the UK government.

The Supreme Court ruled last month there was no legal need for Holyrood to give its consent to the triggering of Article 50. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, however, she would let MSPs have a say in what would be a largely symbolic vote.

In the debate preceding the vote, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said while her party accepted the result of last year’s referendum, the people of Scotland did not vote for a hard Brexit.

Brexit was designed to appease the very worst right wing of the Tories, Dugdale says, adding she “cannot and will not sign up to [prime minister] Theresa May’s version of Brexit.”

Dugdale went against the orders of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn by voting against the bill.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said the SNP are more concerned with using Brexit as a “battering ram” for independence.

Baillie says the rhetoric from Sturgeon that this is the most significant vote for the Scottish parliament since its devolution is overblown and does not help Sturgeon’s cause.

Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw says Sturgeon is not respecting the voice of Scots who voted to leave, which was 38 percent.  He says Article 50 is going to be triggered, and it is important to influence the actual debate that is taking place.

The Scottish Green Party supported the government motion. Its coordinator Patrick Harvie says triggering Article 50 now would be like signing a blank cheque.

A spokesperson for the UK government told the Independent: “The Scottish parliament is free to debate any issue it chooses, and indeed has discussed Brexit on many occasions.”

“The UK government will continue our engagement with the Scottish government and with people and groups across Scotland as we prepare to leave the EU to secure the best deal for Scotland and the UK.”

The SNP attempted to block the UK government’s Brexit bill last week. Only one of Scotland’s 59 MPs – Scottish Secretary David Mundell – supported the bill. It ultimately passed its first parliamentary hurdle by 498 votes to 114.