IAN Blackford has warned MPs that the Tory Internal Market Bill will “grab the powers back that were returned to Scotland” with devolution.

Speaking in the Commons during the legislation’s second reading, the SNP’s Westminster leader described it as “an attack on democracy, and an affront to the people of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland”.

Blackford said: “Over the course of the last 21 years of devolution, Scotland’s people have benefited from the progressive and divergent priorities that our own governance has given us the freedom to pursue.

“They have seen it, they have experienced it, and they have come to fiercely value it. Even with limited power, Scotland’s parliament and our governments always sought to mitigate or reject the Conservative policy paths set out at Westminster.

“We have forged our own path.”

He said the Tories were “trying to grab the powers back that were returned to Scotland 21 years ago”.

“That is exactly what this law is designed to do. It is a full-frontal attack on Scotland’s parliament and an attack on Scotland’s democracy,” he added.

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Blackford warned that if the legislation passed, the Government in London would be able to “interfere directly in all these devolved areas over the heads of the Scottish Parliament and our people”.

“There is only one way to stop them,” he added. “Only one answer, only one option. The only way to defend Scotland’s parliament and its powers is by becoming independent.

“Our parliament will consider a new referendum bill before the end of 2021, the chance to choose an independent future is now coming. No amount of Tory denial and disruption could stand in the way of Scotland’s people’s democratic rights to choose a different, and a better future.

“Once it comes people will have their democratic say, and I am more confident than ever that they will choose to be part of a new Scotland, back at the heart of Europe. We can choose to leave behind the chaos and the instability of Westminster. We can get on by becoming an independent, international, law-abiding nation.”

Opening the debate in the Commons, Boris Johnson claimed the Northern Ireland protocol went “well beyond common sense” and was being used by the EU “simply to exert leverage against the UK in our negotiations for a free trade agreement”.

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Johnson said the measures in the Internal Market Bill, which allow him to override the protocol agreed with the EU in January, were “a protection, it’s a safety net, it’s in an insurance policy, and it is a very sensible measure”.

He said the EU had threatened to prevent food exports from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Labour’s Ed Miliband – standing in for Keir Starmer who is self-isolating – said that was simply untrue.

He said the debate was not an argument about “Leave versus Remain” but “right versus wrong”.

Miliband accused Johnson of “legislative hooliganism” and said he had ignored warnings over how the Northern Ireland Protocol works and the mediation measures in place.

He told the Commons: “Let’s just get this straight for a minute, because I think it is important to take a step back. What the Prime Minister is coming to the House to tell us today is that his flagship achievement, the deal he told us was a triumph, the deal he said, as I said, was oven ready, the deal [on] which he fought and won the General Election is now contradictory and ambiguous.

“What incompetence. What failure of governance. And how dare he try and blame everyone else."

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He went on: “There is an irony here, which is this bill does precisely nothing to address the issue of transport of food from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. It is about two issues where they are going to override international law.

“It’s about exit declarations – Northern Ireland to GB – and the definition of state aid relating to Northern Ireland. If the Prime Minister wants to tell us that there’s another part of this bill that we haven’t noticed, that will deal with this supposed threat of the blockade, I’ll give way to him.

“I’ll very happily give way to him and he can tell us – I’m sure he’s read it – I’m sure he knows it in detail because he’s a details man. Come on, tell us what clause protects the threat that he says he’s worried about GB to Northern Ireland exports. I give way to him.”

Johnson sat with his arms folded.

“There you have it,” Miliband said. “He didn’t read the protocol, he he hasn’t read the bill, he doesn’t know his stuff.

READ MORE: Brexit: Douglas Ross denies Internal Market Bill is a Tory power grab

Pete Wishart, SNP chairman of the Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee, told MPs: “Never before has there been such a sustained attack on our Parliament or our democracy.

“The invention and development of the idea of a UK single market has been one of the most spectacular, dishonest pieces of political chicanery we have ever witnessed in recent times.

“The bare-faced nonsense of this being a power surge is contradicted by practically every detail of this bill.”

He said clause 46 of the bill allows the UK Government to “legislate directly in devolved responsibilities”, adding: “It’s a mechanism designed to bypass the Scottish Government.”

However, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said the bill “cannot be a power grab” as “over 100 extra powers are going to Holyrood, going to the Scottish Parliament”.