SCOTS business owners, academics, trade unionists and anyone with an interest in the matter have just a few days left to make their feelings known formally about the UK Government’s determination to ride roughshod over devolution.

That’s the alarm sounded by Councillor Heather Anderson, the former SNP MEP, who has called on National readers to make their contribution to the “consultation process” currently being carried out by the Tory Government on its proposed laws on the UK internal market.

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Anderson said: “You may not have noticed, but we are already nearly halfway through the so-called consultation period on the UK Internal Market White Paper, published on July 16.

“To be fair, you weren’t meant to notice. I only wish I could stop imagining Gove waving his hands whilst the body of devolution lies in the middle of the road. ‘Move on, move on. Nothing to see here’.

“The white paper basically asks us to renew our 1707 Act of Union vows. It tells us at length about just how well we have all done, with, I kid you not, examples from the 18th century. It repeats the importance of the “UK market” to Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. It spends page after page extolling the benefits of a single market, citing increased costs and barriers when trade ceases to be free and seamless.

“Without a hint of irony, every case study inadvertently makes the parallel case for remaining in the largest free trade block in the world, the European Union. The paper uses economic formula to put a price on the costs of divergence and extols the benefits of freedom of movement of goods, capital, services and people across the UK.

“Scotland, who would still vote overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, doesn’t really need any lectures from the UK Government on the benefits of a single market. We voted to remain a member of the largest single market with 446 million citizens and commitment to human rights and standards. Now we are trapped in one a tenth of the size with a lack of commitment to anything much.

“But make no mistake, behind the waffling, this White Paper is nothing less than a demolition of the key principles of the devolution settlement.

“The Scotland Act clearly stated that if a power was not reserved, it was devolved. The Sewel Convention required the UK Government, when legislating on devolved matters, seek consent. The withholding of consent to the withdrawal of the UK from the EU was ignored.

“This paper continues the work of dismantling the devolution settlement. At its heart is the key principle of ‘mutual recognition’. This means anything the UK decides is acceptable must be accepted in Scotland.”

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