Scottish Labour to vote against triggering Brexit

Scottish Labour will vote against the triggering of Brexit. Picture; John Devlin

Scottish Labour will vote against the triggering of Brexit. Picture; John Devlin

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Scottish Labour is to vote against the triggering of Article 50 in a symbolic debate at Holyrood.

Leader Kezia Dugdale has confirmed while her party accepts the UK is leaving the European Union, it opposes Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed terms.

MSPs today will vote on a Scottish Government motion arguing the UK Government’s European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill currently making its way through the Commons should not proceed.

The move puts Lothians MSP Ms Dugdale at odds with UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is facing a revolt by pro-Remain MPs – including the party’s only Scottish MP Ian Murray who are defying his leadership to vote against the Bill at Westminster.

In an article for LabourList, Ms Dugdale said: “The UK is leaving the EU, that is not in doubt. What is in doubt is the terms on which we are leaving.

“Scottish Labour respects the result of the UK-wide referendum on the EU, but we also know the people of Scotland did not vote for Theresa May’s hard Brexit and that no-one voted to become poorer.

“While the Bill to leave the EU is still progressing through the House of Commons, Labour in Holyrood will send a clear message we do not support a hard Brexit.

“The UK is leaving the European Union, but there is no reason why Scottish Labour and the Scottish Parliament should not give a voice to the wishes of the vast majority of Scottish people.”

The Holyrood debate is being held despite the Supreme Court ruling the UK Government is not legally compelled to consult the devolved administrations before beginning EU divorce proceedings.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pledged to give MSPs a vote on the issue regardless of the court’s decision, but the Scottish Government has put forward a motion for debate rather than a formal legislative consent memorandum.

Meanwhile Theresa May warned potential Conservative rebel MPs they will be “obstructing” the will of the people if they vote with Labour and the SNP to change the Brexit Bill. The Prime Minister said the House of Commons has already clearly voted in support of the bill which will allow her to trigger Article 50.

The Bill is returning to the Commons on Monday for three days of debate during committee stage, giving MPs the chance to amend the legislation. Mrs May warned pro-Remain Tories against backing amendments seeking to ensure Parliament gets a say on the “endgame” if Brexit negotiations collapse without a deal.