Fear of Sinn Féin role 'behind devolved EU powers stance'


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The Scottish Brexit Secretary has said one of the reasons the government is resisting devolving some powers from Brussels to the Scottish Parliament is due to fears of what Sinn Féin might do in a future NI Assembly.

Mike Russell said Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington discussed the issue with him earlier this week.

The Scottish Parliament has refused to give its consent to the UK's Brexit legislation.

It believes it should have the powers.

"The whole reason why devolution in Scotland and Wales had to be subverted was out of fear of what Sinn Féin might do in a legitimate assembly," Mr Russell told BBC NI.

"The issue here is people's consent and people's votes. If the UK government is so afraid of people voting and consenting, then they should give up democracy all together.

"If they aren't afraid of that, then they should stop making silly allegations and attempting silly smears."

'Dangerous situation'

Mr Russell also said he had concerns about the DUP's influence on the government.

"I do think there's an issue to be dealt with here," he said.

"We don't take part in Northern Irish politics, that is an issue for people in Northern Ireland, but it does seem that if the DUP is in a position to veto things happening in Westminster - to veto devolved settlements - then we're in a dangerous situation."

Earlier this week, the Scottish Parliament voted by 93 to 30 that Holyrood "does not consent to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill".

Westminster ultimately has the power to introduce the legislation without the consent of the Scottish Parliament - but it would be politically difficult, and has never been done before.

The UK government has published proposals that would see the "vast majority" of the 158 areas where policy in devolved regions is currently decided in Brussels go directly to the Scottish and Welsh parliaments after Brexit.

But it has also named 24 areas where it wants to retain power temporarily in the wake of Britain's exit from the EU, including the likes of agriculture, fisheries, food labelling and public procurement.

It says the "temporary restriction" on the devolved governments using some of the powers returning from the EU is needed "to help ensure an orderly departure from EU law" and allow the same rule and regulations to remain in place across the whole of the UK.

But the Scottish government argues that it would leave Holyrood unable to pass laws in some devolved areas for up to seven years.

Northern Ireland has been without a devolved assembly since January of last year.