Richard Leonard calls for talks to break Brexit deadlock
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has written to Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington and Scottish Brexit minister Michael Russell to suggest that cross-party talks are needed to break the brexit deadlock between the Scottish and British government.
The negotiations have floundered, with the Scottish Government accusing No 10 of a ‘brexit power grab’, though they have admitted that more recent rounds negotiations have led to modest improvements in the proposal.
The disagreement centres over the powers that are to be repatriated, and the consent necessary for the EU Withdrawal Bill to pass. The Scottish Government has indicated that they would be satisfied if one of the amendments going through Westminster was passed - which would make agreement contingent on Holyrood consent. The British government are at the moment are unwilling to do so. But the clock is ticking, consent needs to be given or withheld before the final vote in the Lords on the 16th of May.
In the letter, Leonard expresses Scottish Labour's position as resting on protecting ‘democracy and devolution’, and highlights the fact that it was Labour that secured devolution in the first place. Regarding difficulties in the talks he says:
“In light of that I would like to propose that the most constructive confidence-building step at this stage would be cross-party talks involving the UK government, the Scottish government and representatives of parties in the Scottish Parliament. Talks on this basis would help us explore how we can achieve a consensus and so a breakthrough that delivers on the objective of protecting democracy and devolution.
Scottish Labour is prepared to participate in such talks with you both - and with representatives of the other parties - because we recognise that trust is essential to finding a resolution to this situation. Our offer is made in that spirit, and I am ready to help facilitate such talks.”
We will have to wait to see if his offer is taken up.