It’s the Scotland Act, not the Boris Johnson Act

According to a clause buried deep within Boris Johnson’s EU withdrawal bill, the law would be changed following the successful passage of the bill to allow the British Government to make unilateral changes to the devolution settlement by way of regulations, without having to seek the approval of the Westminster Parliament. Ministers could make the changes that they see fit by fiat. And not just changes to the devolution settlement as it affects Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland, ministers would also have the power to make changes to the Human Rights Act. The powers given to ministers go so far as enabling them to abolish the Scotland Act in its entirety.

The powers that ministers would award themselves were discussed in a report on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill published by the House of Lords Constitution Committee. The committee wrote:

82. There is one significant difference between powers under new section 8C and those under 8B(5) that were discussed in chapter 4. There is no restriction on 8C powers being used to impose or increase taxation or fees, make retrospective provision, create a relevant criminal offence (i.e. with a penalty exceeding two years imprisonment), establish a public authority, amend, repeal or revoke the Human Rights Act 1998 or any subordinate legislation made under it, or amend or repeal the Scotland Act 1998, the Government of Wales Act 2006, or the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

You can read the full report by clicking on this link –

The powers referred to under section 8C relate to “deficiencies” which would arise in law following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, when EU legislation would no longer apply to the UK. Strictly speaking then, these powers should be used only sparingly, and only in a very limited sphere relating to retained EU law. That is precisely how they are being sold to us. The bill provides that the new powers are to be subjected to a test of “appropriateness” as set out in Section 8(1) of the 2018 Act. However what is approprate is not defined and is left to the discretion of ministers. The relevant section detailing the test of appropriateness in the 2018 Act reads:
“A Minister of the Crown may by regulations make such provision as the Minister considers appropriate to prevent, remedy or mitigate—
(a)any failure of retained EU law to operate effectively, or
(b)any other deficiency in retained EU law,
arising from the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU.”

Now I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t look like much of a test of appropriateness to me. Personally I might think it’s entirely appropriate that you give me all the cash in your wallet, and you might disagree, but if I’m the guy who gets to decide what’s appropriate then you’re giving me the cash in your wallet along with your hard won devolution settlement.

But we need not worry our pretty little untousled heads because our wunnerful British Government has sworn that it’s only going to use these far reaching powers for a very restricted set of purposes and only for a short term period. After all, Boris Johnson cares deeply about Scotland and he’s motivatedly solely by what is in our best interests. The Tory candidate for Angus Kirstene Hair told us so on BBC Question Time, and no one laughed at her at all. Oh no.

The problem however is that Boris Johnson and his government can’t be trusted for as far as a small child could throw them. Not even as far as the next ditch. We therefore are left with the word of the likes of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove as our sole guarantee that the British Government would not use these wide ranging powers to achieve nakedly political objectives – such as for example the effective neutering of the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

We have already seen what happens when ministers twist the arm of Parliament to award themselves more powers. For example when the Government gave itself greater powers to take action against terrorist organisations, Gordon Brown used them to take action against Iceland because of the behaviour of Icelandic banks. We were told that the powers were only going to be used against the threat of ISIS and Al Qaeda, but then they were used against Bjork and some puffins. It’s a safe bet that this bunch of Conservatives will be more than willing to find excuses to extend the range and use of the powers that they’re so keen to award themselves.

The other problem is that once ministers have obtained these powers, they’re going to be very reluctant to give them up again. These are not people who can be trusted to willingly surrender powers that they have to make widespread changes to legislation and law without the scrutiny of Parliament. In the short period of time that he’s been Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has already shown the lengths that he will go to to avoid Parliamentary scrutiny.

Now, the Tories are not going to use this provision to abolish the Scottish Parliament. They may be venal, greedy, undemocratic, and hypocritical, but they’re not actually stupid. Well, some of them at any rate. They know that unilaterally abolishing the devolution settlement would create such a groundswell of anger in Scotland that we’d be independent a week later. What they are far more likely to do is to use this provision to whittle out the devolution settlement from within.

What’s especially concerning however is that this provision comes on top of the proposed changes that the Conservatives have already said that they want to make to the devolution settlement. Michael Gove has already spoken openly about the UK government spending in Scotland on devolved areas of comptence, and making sure that this is branded with a union flag. This will act as a Trojan horse, to gradually reduce the areas of competence of Holyrood. The Tories have never liked devolution, and they are no friends of Scottish political distinctiveness. Within a post-Brexit Britain there is even less place for Scotland to have different political priorities from the rest of the UK.

These developments represent another important material change in circumstances which justify another independence referendum. One of the key promises of the Better Together campaign in 2014 was that the powers of the Scottish Parliament would be enshrined in law and would be put beyond the ability of any British Government to alter without the express consent of Holyrood. We can see now that was a lie. The British Government is now quite openly declaring that it and it alone has the unilateral right to alter the devolution settlement as it sees fit. That’s not what Scotland was promised in 2014.

The current devolution settlement was approved by the people of Scotland in a referendum in 1997, by a considerably larger majority than Brexit was approved. But you don’t hear any Conservatives saying that the result of that referendum must be respected. You don’t hear any Conservatives saying that their promises and commitments to Scotland in 2014 must be respected. By attacking the devolution settlement, the Tories might like to tell themselves that they are making independence less likely, but all that they are really doing is destroying that union that they claim to love so much.

Get out and vote on 12 December and tell the Tories that they’re the ones who are not listening to what Scotland wants. It’s the Scotland Act, not the Boris Johnson Act.

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49 thoughts on “It’s the Scotland Act, not the Boris Johnson Act

  1. Get the Tories out of Scotland and get the border up. All the Westminster politicians who oppose Ibdependence do not last long. Cameron, Osbourne, Clegg, Brown, May. Johnson? Who wants the poison chalice. Next.

  2. Whilst I wouldn’t put it past them to unilaterally close Holyrood, it indeed is more likely they’ll erode its powers. The question then becomes will the other British Nationalist parties, who say they want devolution, just sit back and let them because of them ESSENPEE? Will the Scottish (sic) MSM call the out on it or just stay quiet cos of them ESSENPEE?

    What will the people do? What can we do?

    For a start on 12/12/2019 vote for SNP to send a BIG message.

  3. Pingback: It’s the Scotland Act, not the Boris Johnson Act | speymouth

  4. Boris Johnston hobnobbing with the Royals. The State of it. The unbelievable smug smirk. Thinks he has made it. Criminal behaviour cover up. What a complete and utter shambles.

  5. Tories can deny or obfuscate on the subject all they like. Pretty much ditto the rest of the usual suspects. It was included in the WB and report for a reason. Actual intent, political intimidation? Doesn’t matter a damn. Should raise a fairly logical question for the devolved parliaments.

    Get your vote out people.

  6. I hope this is going to be a leaflet, a poster, a PPB and everywhere on Social Media. We need people to KNOW !!!1Rees- Mogg and co may seem to be clowning but they are seriously dangerous right wing power mongers, without one scrap of conscience amongst them. We must get people to vote first for defence of Holyrood and for independence asap.

  7. even if the tories did close Holyrood, what will the people do. I would suggest nothing silch nada, as has been the case for the last 300 odd years. What can be done we just get ignored, we have become the boiling frog.

  8. I disagree
    They will close Holyrood
    OK initially they will reduce it from within , they do that already with those List MP,s but then a majority of people will vote SNP in a Holyrood election and that will give England fear that a majority will vote for Scottish independence .
    Before the Scottish independence referendum gets a chance to take place England will close down the Scottish Parliament .
    We will at some point have to take to the streets in protest.

  9. Pingback: It’s the Scotland Act, not the Boris Johnson Act (The same will apply to Wales) | sideshowtog

  10. It would have been interesting if the GE had not been called and the Bill had come back to the HoC. Would Labour and the LibDems have stood up for the devolved Parliament and Assemblies and removed this clause? After all it was a minority gov so the other parties could have combined to remove it.

    Would they though?

    If Labour wins and brings in its own Withdrawal Bill will they include such a clause?

    What do you think?

    If the Tories get back in with a majority the clause, presumably, stays. In which case if they move to close Holyrood by diktat then it ends up in the courts. According to the Scotland Act 1998 closure of the Scottish Parliament requires the people to vote for that in a referendum.

    Thus it heads to the Courts except the Tories want to get rid of the UK Supreme Court which is hardly surprising since so many times decisions of that Court have gone against the Tory Government of Cameron and his successors. Not rule by law but rule by diktat then.

    Will they risk it? Probably not instead they will remove powers piecemeal until the Scottish Parliament is an empty shell.

    Not good.

    • You ask if the Libdems and Labour would stand up for the rights of the Scottish Parliament/Scottish People ?
      The answer to that is a clear NO ! The 13 Tory zombies and the ”Scottish ” Labour lapdogs ( not forgetting her majesty , Jo Swinson the First ) have not lifted a finger to push the case for Scotland at Westminster – they are there to support their UK parties only – Scotland does not register .
      Remember this when voting !

      • Would not disagree with you on that. But would like to see them put on the spot by someone asking them directly what they would do. Then watch them squirm.

  11. The historical approach from the Westminster establishment towards radical change has been to do so by secrecy and stealth.
    However,with BoJo and his pals in charge this is going to be more the bull in a china shop approach.
    They will definitely try to shutdown Holyrood before we get a chance to hold another referendum.
    Scotland is in the last chance saloon and there is no place left for British Labour devolutionists hoping that things won’t get that bad.
    They will.

  12. I wouldn’t put it past them to try and shut Holyrood down. Their wee pals would love it. Scottish labour would love it, and those wee fannies the lib dems would love it. Then they’d have the brass balls to come round and expect to be rewarded with votes.

    This dead cat bounce called the Scots tories need to be put out of our misery. They need to be be gone. In fact they all do.

    use your vote

  13. Written by President Charles de Gaulle in his memoirs about ‘La perfide Albion’ and his distrust of the British Establishment:-

    “Pour l’Angleterre…….. il n’y a pas d’alliance qui tienne, ni de traité qui vaille, ni la vérité qui compte.”

    Translates as:

    “For England …. there is no alliance which holds, nor treaty which has worth, nor truth which counts”.

    De Gaulle could read them well, even then.

  14. The UK Supreme Court was set up by Blair. Scotland can still go to the ECHR/UN to achieve Independence. They did before to achieve Devolution. The total lack of democracy for Scotland in the UK. Scotland was supposed to be treated equally and never has been. Revenues and resources illegally and secretly taken. Taxes and conscription imposed for Westminster wars for centuries.

    The reason the ‘people’s assembly’ was set up. So people from all avenues could come together to achieve a goal. To back Independence by legal measures, internationally.

    The London Court (Blair) has to consider Scottish Law when making a judgement. They cannot go against Scottish Law or they break the terms of the Treaty of Union. Scotland should always have a separate legal system. Most of Westminster do not even realise that clause. They have blocked leave to appeal to the ECHR. People in Scotland being treated differently. The Scottish Courts refused leave to appeal. The London Court backed the decision.

    People in Scotland have to vote for Independence. Self governance and self determination are recognised as human rights. The Declaration at Arbroath was a start. Scotland established that principle recognised the world over. Scottish Independence must be recognised internationally if people vote for it. The demographics are changing.

    Devolution has changed the Scottish economy for the better. Independence will be even better. Just like most prosperous countries. Like Denmark, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ireland, the Scandi countries. The UK is the most unequal country in the world. More equal countries are cohesive and happier.

    Vote SNP/SNP. Vote for Independence. Get one other to vote as well. Stop illegal wars, tax evasion and financial fraud. Make Scotland and the world a better place. The Westminster shambles is a total disgrace.

  15. Two comments from the Financial Times readers about the election results in Spain.
    Interesting but typical of the English view

    “Am I alone in seeing here a parallel with events in the UK, where, I believe, a noisy but unsuccessful separatist movement in Scotland was inadvertently instrumental in initiating a more powerful and dangerous outbreak of nationalist sentiment in England, the consequences of which are not yet clear? “

    “think it was Brexit/EU that brought out the national sentiment … Scotland has been banging on about another referendum for ever and no one really takes any notice. “

  16. Last week, Johnson crept into Scotland and ‘visited’ a distillery up in Elgin, which was heralded (see what I did there?) as The Great Big Fat Owl of The Remove campaigning in Scotland.
    He was ushered in under heavy security, met no one other than Diageo bosses, and took the opportunity to remind Scotland that we are a colony of his Empire 2, and nothing we do will change that.
    It was a declaration of war by and occupying force.
    We enslaved you 300 years ago, and I am here to remind you that we are bigger than you, and have an army Navy and Air Force big enough to crush any wee country we choose, never mind the Northern Territory and its Barbarians.

    Is this not the message Johnson was delivering from the US Venture Capital owned Diageo plant in the NE enclave of Brit Natsism?

    No matter if we returned 59 MPs, and 100% voted for Pro Independence, this bloated little Posh Boy, and his grubby littler bunch of Well Off Toffs actually believe that they can order Scotland, a country, to bow to their imperial will, or else?
    Or else, what?

    You may recall Tory Blair delivering speeches at a podium sponsored by Diageo when he was the US’s lap dog.
    Owned by two US venture capitalist houses Diageo has global drinks interests, including Moet Chandon, Smirnoff, and Scotch, to name but a few.
    Its UK HQ are in London of course, and I have no doubt that Johnson will eventually a Non Exec something or other in a few years time as a reward for his sterling work now in slapping down the Jocks and giving this Yankee global Superco untrammelled perks in the Northern Colony.
    When we take back our country, many of the challenges will involve taking on these Ultra Right New World Order multi nationals , by actually taxing them and ensuring that wealth generated Here remains here to benefit the people of Scotland, not Wall Street gangsters and compliant WM politicians.
    The arrogance of the Brit Nats Up Here in defying the will of the Scottish people has now reached risible proportions as witnessed last Thursday Hair was laughed at on QT.
    Looking forward to more desperate nonsense from the Brits this week.

  17. So so again I ask what will people in Scotland do?
    What if Westminster refuses to give approval for a referendum and that is upheld in courts?
    will you all go on a mass civil disobedience campaign? how strong is the feeling towards independence if it ends up with mass arrests? You need to have plans all the way down. Venting on social media and blogs doesn’t gain independence.

    • We’ll march on Partick post office and read out the Independence Proclamation as we queue to collect our pension, Brian.
      Scotland is not Catalonia or Hong Kong, or even Eire 1916.

      But like others on here, I’ve sharpened my pruning shears, just in case there is a call to arms and I am conscripted into the First Silver Seventies Zimmer Brigade of the Scottish Army of Rebellion.

      We are in a contract with our neighbours to the South.
      The time has come to end the Union, by the pen, not the Claymore.

        • It happens that a few years ago now, when I was traveling these lands plying my trade, I once spent a wonderful evening with a bunch of postal workers on a training course in the lounge of a smallish Cardiff hotel, and there was much singing, and a few beers, and a lot of Celtic bonding.
          By the Chief can you guys sing!
          Did I mention that we sank a few?

          The Men of Harlech are no longer sleeping.

          “Men of Harlech, march to glory,
          Victory is hov’ring o’er ye,
          Bright-eyed freedom stands before ye,
          Hear ye not her call?
          At your sloth she seems to wonder;
          Rend the sluggish bonds asunder,
          Let the war-cry’s deaf’ning thunder
          Every foe appall.”

          It is now inevitable that England’s ‘precious Union’ is about to destroy itself, and Johnson’s imperial diktats, and the belligerent language of fat ruddy wee men Up here testifies, there is no way back for the ‘British’ Empire.
          We shall take our countries back, and there is nothing they can do about it.
          Right is on our side.

          • SOME of us can sing – believe it or not my mum sing like crows with sore throats but put us in a crowd of Cymry and we’ll belt out Hen Wlad fy Nhadau with the best of them.

            This goes partly to explain why I compose my ‘Songs for the New Politics’ – it lets others exercise their larynx on my (and independence’s) part, with just me in the background urging them/you on!

  18. All these sleekit moves being carried out in the shadows and out of sight of the general public ,

    This is being enabled with the help of The English Broadcasting Service and all the media whose sole aim is to keep the locals in the dark ,

    The language used in in the proposed changes is so vague and bland so as not to cause concern , remember the phrase ” Not Normally ” this insertion was used to essentially nullify the Scottland Act to make it Irrelevant once tested as proved to be the case with the English Supreme Count Judgment ,

    Fluffy may have been removed from the cabinet but his grubby scabby paws are all over this .

  19. They’re not only tax evading Ken, they’re “using” Scotland, a Scottish product, by employing 10,000 people here in comparison to over 30,000 in England. Additionally the companies are employing many of their workers on zero hour contracts. Not so long ago they were forced by law to bring agency workers rates of pay in line with permanent staff. So what did they do? They created a lower rate of pay, on their scale, for permanent workers (some) to cover their backs and ensure that those on ZHC didn’t get access to higher rates of pay.


    I’ve heard it all now. Someone contacted BBCYourQuestions to ask, (first question up), “If Scotland becomes independent will it get access to the NHS?” Ignorant or what?

    A woman from the Nuffield Trust was answering the questions and explained that we’ve got our own NHS in Scotland. She should have explained that, that was the case for Scotland (under a different name) long before it was introduced in rUK.

  20. Saying it as it is.i am with Petra and jack collation on this, why beat around the bush, this going to court to dispute England stealing the sovereignty of our people and our country is nothin new in fact, they, Westminster have broken the treaty many times already, but did Scotland take them to court, NO. England has broke many treaties across the globe for all of history to see. Do I trust them, Do you?
    End the treaty of the union now before it’s to late and our hands are tied behind our backs, while the English parliament takes away our rights by stealth, keep it legal and save Scotland and its people from years of dominance in our future. When the flesh is picked of the carcus of this subject, all your actually legally left with are the bones of the Treaty of the union.

  21. The only thing I would take issue with Paul in an otherwise excellent article, is “Bjork and some puffins” – that’s quite frankly a bit insulting, reminiscent of “What has Scotland got other than whisky and a monster in a lake” – Iceland could teach us a few lessons in self-respect and how to be an independent nation.

    • Quite right, Derek Thompson.

      Did I share with you my anecdote of attending a dinner here in England a few months after the Euro 2016 Championships?

      As part of the raffle at the end of the evening, the MC announced that one of the prizes was an authentic Euro 2016 match ball. I asked, completely dead pan, if it had therefore been signed by all members of the Iceland football team.

      The dirty look the MC gave me was worth that alone.

      So, yes, Iceland has a half decent football team as well …

        • I don’t remember in my youth, being too afraid if Scotland played Yugoslavia, but Croatia or Serbia now???? different matter. Both those smaller subsets of the former mini-empire of Yugoslavia have achieved more in World Cup finals in their short existence than Scotland ever has.

          Sometimes the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

  22. Perhaps Petra, they plan to place us in their new law of the terrorism act, why wait for this, why wait to be imprisoned, it’s time to wake up Scotland, are you so blind and slow witted that you cannot see the plans that Westminster has for any person that does not agree with them in the future.
    Do it now while your still free and in a position to do it legally.

  23. James we’re in the end game now with many Scots. not so much being blind and slow witted as having been brainwashed by the Establishment. Social media is now countering that and with our support the SNP / Nicola Sturgeon will get us out of this hellhole.

  24. Does anyone else get a shiver down their spine reading that clause? In particular, the bit that says, ‘create a relevant criminal offence (i.e. with a penalty exceeding two years imprisonment)’, whaaa?
    They saying they can ‘CREATE a criminal offence’? Now that is terrifying.

    I know, if you are a member of the SNP, or have ever been a member….that is a ‘relevant criminal offense’, because we say so! You can’t have dodgy people making up laws like that in anything resembling a democracy. But then we know that UKOK is on the rocky road to being a totalitarian regime, with pals in dodgy places all around the globe.

    Scotland, run for your lives!

    • It basically says, ‘Boris can become a dictator, if he wants.’ The jury remains out on whether he would because, as to date, he has not yet said categorically that he wouldn’t.

      If he does make that promise – flee for the hills! – is my advice.

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