Brexit: The aftermath

Scottish Parliament 'could try to block Brexit'

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addressing the media after an emergency Cabinet meeting at Bute House in Edinburgh, last Saturday. The nation of five million voted to stay in the EU by 62 per cent to 38 per cent, putting it at odds with the
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addressing the media after an emergency Cabinet meeting at Bute House in Edinburgh, last Saturday. The nation of five million voted to stay in the EU by 62 per cent to 38 per cent, putting it at odds with the United Kingdom as a whole.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Legislation to leave EU may need consent from 3 Parliaments including Scotland's

LONDON • The turmoil engulfing British politics has worsened after last week's shocking European Union referendum result. 

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the BBC yesterday that Holyrood could try to block the United Kingdom's exit from the EU.

She said the UK that Scotland voted to remain a part of in a 2014 independence referendum "does not exist any more" following the results of last Thursday's referendum.

Scotland, a nation of five million people, voted to stay in the EU by 62 per cent to 38 per cent, putting it at odds with the UK as a whole, which voted by 52 per cent to 48 per cent in favour of an exit from the bloc, or Brexit.

Under the UK's complex arrangements to devolve some powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, legislation generated in London to give effect to the vote to leave the EU may have to gain consent from the three devolved Parliaments.

PROTECTING SCOTLAND

There are going to be deeply damaging and painful consequences of the process of trying to extricate the UK from the EU. I want to try and protect Scotland from that.

MS NICOLA STURGEON, Scotland's First Minister

Asked if she would consider asking the Scottish Parliament to block a motion of legislative consent, Ms Sturgeon replied: "Of course."

However, constitutional law expert Adam Tomkins told The Guardian that Ms Sturgeon's words should be interpreted carefully, given that there was "a huge difference between withholding consent and having a veto".

Ms Sturgeon also told the BBC that a new Scottish referendum on independence from the rest of the UK was "highly likely" if that were the best option to keep Scotland in the European bloc.

"There are going to be deeply damaging and painful consequences of the process of trying to extricate the UK from the EU. I want to try and protect Scotland from that," she said.

In London, the opposition Labour party found itself in the grip of a leadership crisis, similar to the ruling Conservatives.

Two days after Prime Minister David Cameron resigned over his failure to keep Britain in the EU, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faced a revolt by his lawmakers who called for him, too, to quit.

The Labour leadership had campaigned to stay in the EU, but critics accused Mr Corbyn of failing to reach out to working-class voters drawn in by the Leave camp's anti-establishment rhetoric.

Mr Corbyn, a long-time euro-sceptic who voted against EU membership in 1975, ran a low-key campaign for staying in the bloc.

He did not make his first speech on the topic until two months after Mr Cameron announced the referendum and, in his rare media appearances, he repeatedly highlighted the EU's flaws, even while arguing for a Remain vote.

Swathes of Labour's traditional heartlands in northern and central England, as well as Wales, voted to leave the bloc.

The deep divisions in the party blew into the open after Mr Corbyn sacked his foreign affairs policy chief, Mr Hilary Benn, for questioning his leadership. The sacking triggered the resignation of seven other top party officials.

Meanwhile, the campaign to succeed Mr Cameron was under way in the Conservative party, with the Sunday Telegraph saying his allies would try to stop Mr Boris Johnson, a leader of the Leave campaign, from getting the job.

Mr Johnson is expected to declare his candidacy this week, according to the Sunday Telegraph, which also said that he had no plans to call for a snap election.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2016, with the headline 'Scottish Parliament 'could try to block Brexit''. Print Edition | Subscribe