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Senior party figures insist Scottish independence is the only way to protect such institutions from eventually being sold off by the Tories. The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford is urging MPs to get behind a cross-party amendment to reject the UK Internal Market Bill which has its second reading in the Commons today.
The only way to protect Scotland’s democratic powers is to become an independent country
Mr Blackford warned the Bill would give the Government powers to overrule the Scottish Parliament in devolved areas and give private health providers and water companies the right to unhindered trade in Scotland.
And he said Mr Johnson’s willingness to break the law and an international treaty it signed up to just a few months ago proved it could not be trusted.
Mr Blackford said: “This Tory power grab is a Trojan Horse Bill, which could open Scotland’s NHS and water services up to the kind of creeping privatisation and deregulation that we are already seeing under the Tories in England.
“The whole thrust of Boris Johnson’s bill is to restrict devolved policy choices and impose Westminster decisions on Scotland.”
He continued: “It includes a Trojan Horse clause to allow Tory ministers to encroach in the future even further on devolution against the will of the Scottish Parliament.
“This bill must be stopped in its tracks.
“The Tory Government has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted.
“It freely admits it is willing to break international law, impose an extreme Brexit, and destroy the foundations of Scotland’s devolution settlement.
“If Westminster won’t stop this unprecedented attack on devolution, it will demonstrate beyond all doubt that the only way to protect Scotland’s democratic powers, our NHS, and our place in Europe is to become an independent country.”
The Prime Minister is under increasing pressure to back down on plans to override elements of his own Withdrawal Agreement, with former leaders calling on Tory rebels to vote his Bill down.
Mr Johnson has increased his rhetoric as senior Tories prepare to rebel against his legislation, warning that Brussels could “carve up our country” without his new Bill.
Former prime ministers Sir John Major and Tony Blair united to urge MPs to reject the “shaming” legislation, saying it imperils the Irish peace process, trade negotiations and the UK’s integrity.
Writing in The Sunday Times, they said: “It raises questions that go far beyond the impact on Ireland, the peace process and negotiations for a trade deal – crucial though they are.
“It questions the very integrity of our nation.”
And despite Mr Johnson’s attempts to drum up support, Tory rebels suggested their numbers were growing and opinions were only hardened by Mr Johnson’s increased rhetoric.
Commons justice committee chairman Sir Bob Neill has tabled an amendment which he said would impose a “parliamentary lock” on any changes to the Withdrawal Agreement.
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Labour minister Rachel Reeves said the party would “need to look at the detail” of Sir Bob’s amendment and said Labour MPs will table amendments of their own.
She told the Marr show that said Labour will vote against the Government’s Bill if it still contains clauses overriding the Withdrawal Agreement.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said he would resign if the Government breaks the law “in a way that I find unacceptable”.
He insisted he does not believe the UK will “get to that stage”, adding legislation that could break international law was a “break the glass in emergency provision if we need it”.
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