Following the passing of the EU Withdrawal Bill at Westminster, the bill was sent to the Queen for Royal Assent, as is normal. Except, in this case, there was something a bit different. Of the four administrations in the UK, Westminster and the three devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, only one, Westminster, was in favour. The other three administrations debated the bill and all three refused to approve it in its current form.
As this bill made changes to the devolved powers of all three administrations, the Sewel Convention should apply. It states that changes to the powers of a devolved administration should not be made without the consent of the devolved administration, the intention being that negotiations between Westminster and the devolved administration would follow to reach agreement on the change. However, recently, Westminster have chosen not to respect the Sewell Convention and clauses in the EU Withdrawal bill make it clear that the opinions of the devolved administrations will always be ignored. So Westminster passed the bill without taking the refusal of the devolved administrations into account.
Anyway, back to Royal Assent. The Queen was now presented with a bill passed by Westminster against the wishes of the other three administrations. So what to do? Some say that she has no option but to give assent to any bill presented to her, though if that was true, what’s the point of Royal Assent if the Queen has no choice? Some say that refusal to assent would create a constitutional crisis. But what have we got at the moment if not a constitutional crisis, when three of the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom disagree with a bill passed by Westminster. In any case, in Scotland’s case, as Queen of Scots, does she not have a duty of care to her subjects in Scotland.
So, if there is any truth in Royal Assent, the Queen had two choices. Either she gave Royal Assent to the bill as it stood, ignoring the opinions of three of the four parts of her realm, or she asks Westminster to speak to the devolved administrations to try to reach some kind of agreement. As we all know now, she chose the first option, choosing to ignore the wishes of three-quarters of the (so-called) United Kingdom. Does she think they don’t really count? Is this just a pretend ‘union’? Is English opinion all that matters in this United Kingdom? Westminster is, of course, a de-facto English parliament as English MPs hold an overwhelming majority over all others combined, So they can do what they like, as is only too well demonstrated by the passing of the EU Withdrawal Bill.
So now to the Scottish part. In Scotland, the people are sovereign, and as stated in the Arbroath Declaration and as reaffirmed innumerable times since, the people have the power to elect their King (or Queen), and should that ruler do something which harms the people of Scotland, they have the power to remove that King (or Queen). Thinking about current events, few economists, except the lunatic Brexiteer fringe, believe Brexit will not do serious damage to Scotland’s economy, so it can be argued that the Queen (of Scots), having signed into law this bill against the expressed wishes of the Scottish people, has crossed the line.
What do you think?