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16 May 2018, 02:54 | Silvia Roy
Scottish Parliament poised to reject EU Withdrawal Bill amid devolution row
The Edinburgh assembly voted by 93 votes to 30 to deny consent for the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which is now going through the national parliament in London and is supposed to provide clarity on the legal position as Britain severs ties with the bloc.
The Welsh government agreed to give its consent to the Bill last month but Nicola Sturgeon's government at Holyrood has rejected what it characterises as a unilateral power grab.
A source close to the negotiations said: "It's incredible that the Scottish government are now giving the impression that there was never any prospect of them signing up to a deal of this sort and that it's a constitutional outrage".
The ScottishConservatives voted against, and have blamed the SNP for the failure to find an agreement.
The prime minister briefed Conservative backbenchers on Monday about the two options her ministers are considering: a customs partnership which see Britain collecting tariffs on behalf of the EU; and a combination of technological and administrative measures created to diminish friction on a UK-EU customs border.
May's official position is that Britain will be leaving the European Union on March 29, 2019, whether a deal is reached with Brussels or not.
The FM denounced the "absurdity" of the UK Cabinet's deadlock on future customs arrangements but said: "There's a real possibility - and the SNP can be part of this in the House of Commons - of forcing the UK Government...for remaining effectively in the current customs union".
While the Scottish Parliament's refusal to back the bill will not legally prevent ministers from pressing ahead, it will increase the tensions of the impact of Brexit on devolved settlements across the UK.
Tomkins insisted the UK Government had moved to "accommodate fair concerns raised by all parties in Scotland".
It will be up to ministers in London to decide then if those powers should go to the Scottish and Welsh parliaments, or if they should become part of United Kingdom wide common frameworks. "I still think we can resolve this issue and that remains my objective", he said.
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