WESTMINSTER could have to “explicitly override” the devolved Scottish Government if it does not make amendments to controversial Brexit legislation, a legal expert has warned.

The Scottish Government has brought forward plans to introduce its own EU Continuity Bill as the stand-off with UK ministers over aspects of the EU Withdrawal Bill (EUWB) continues.

Legislation could be brought before Holyrood as early next month after the Conservative Government failed to make changes to Clause 11 of the Bill – which First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has branded a “power grab” – in the House of Commons. Now leading academic Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott said the “greatest value” of a Scottish EU Continuity Bill could be “the political pressure it might exert on the UK Government to amend Clause 11”.

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In a guest post on the Scottish Parliament Information Centre’s new blog site, the expert, from the Queen Mary University of London, stated the UK Government could bring a legal challenge to the Scottish bill, or could even override it.

She said: “Even if a Scottish continuity bill were upheld in the courts, it would still be open for the UK Government to enact the EUWB for the whole of the UK.

“The UK, as a sovereign Parliament, may override legislation passed by devolved legislatures.” With both Scottish ministers and Holyrood’s cross-party Constitution Committee saying they cannot recommend MSPs give consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill without changes to Clause 11, Douglas-Scott added: “This would not be a happy situation.

“The UK Parliament would be overriding a competing Scottish Bill in devolved territory, and would also be enacting the EUWB in the absence of an LCM (legislative consent motion) from the Scottish Parliament and thus ignoring the Sewel convention that Westminster would not normally legislate over devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.”

While she stressed constitutional conventions are political, and cannot be upheld by the courts, the academic was clear “it is still a grave matter politically to ignore a constitutional convention, and so act unconstitutionally”.

Douglas-Scott continued: “Therein lies, perhaps, the real utility of a Continuity Bill: in pushing the UK Government into a situation where it must either permit devolved nations to retain control of retained EU law in devolved areas, or explicitly override a Continuity Bill and/or the devolution settlements without their consent.

“At present, the greatest value of a Continuity Bill may be the political pressure it might exert on the UK Government to amend Clause 11 EUWB and so make it possible to adopt the EUWB with the Scottish Parliament’s consent.”