THE ARCHBISHOP of York is set to vote for Westminster to grab Scotland’s powers, saying Scots need to know that they’re part of the UK and not independent.

By virtue of his faith, John Sentamu, one of England’s most senior clerics, has more of a say on the Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill, than the Scottish Government.

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And yesterday, as the Lords debated the Brexit repeal bill, he intervened to plead for the devolved administrations to understand that the power grab should not be thought of as a power grab.

During what was at times, by the standards of the Lords, a heated debate, former First Minister Jack McConnell even told the Tory Advocate General to stop treating the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments as stupid.

The EU Withdrawal Bill will, effectively, transfer all European law into UK law and will see 153 powers currently controlled in Brussels repatriated to Britain.

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Clause 11 of the bill sees the powers in devolved areas heading back to Whitehall first, and UK ministers deciding if they should then go to the devolved legislatures or if they should become part of a UK-wide common framework.

That was initially described as a “power grab” by the First Ministers of Wales and Scotland, and even the Scottish Tories said they found the initial bill troublesome.

Months of negotiations has seen some agreement, and the Scottish Government is happy with the idea of common frameworks, but as long as Holyrood has the ability to accept or reject them.

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The UK Government has balked at this, unwilling to give MSPs an effective veto. While they’re set to amend Clause 11, it won’t go far enough for the administrations in Edinburgh and Cardiff.

During a debate on devolution and Brexit, and in a slightly unwieldy speech, in which Sentamu claimed there was a dispute over 23 rather than 24 powers, he said: “Devolution was a good thing but it doesn’t mean that the powers which affect other nations could just simply be devolved.

“As I’ve listened again and again and again, I think the point is of all those powers that are coming back, they’ve identified 23, that if those were just simply handed over, without clear legislation, we’re going to be in a real mess.

He added: “There’d be no coherence, there’d be no way this is the United Kingdom, it’ll be something else.”

The archbishop then said it was the devolved administrations’ fault that the message wasn’t “getting through”.

“This isn’t grabbing power,” he said, adding that the powers coming back from Brussels needed “very careful consideration, otherwise some may think, leave the EU for some equals independence”.

Advocate General Richard Keen, said not having the frameworks would lead to a “breakdown in the internal market that is so crucial to us”.

He gave the peers an example: “If the Scottish Government, to take an example, decide to make regulations as soon as they have power when these 153 competencies return, to change the provisions on food labelling, and to do it only for Scotland within their devolved competencies, then the manufacturer of jam in York would find it very difficult to sell his product north of the Border, or he would have to label it in two different ways.”

McConnell told Keen that it was “not helpful to the heat that is generated around this debate when the examples the Government gives for the need to retain power imply that decisions made in Scotland would be stupid.”

He added that the issue was not the actual 24 powers, but about how they will be agreed, the difference between consent and consult.

Earlier in the debate, former Tory Cabinet minister Chris Patten branded Brexit a “political jihad”.

Patten, who has also served as a European commissioner, called for the principles and terms of the Good Friday Agreement, which he described as “one of the biggest achievements in post-war British politics”, to be written into the legislation.

“The Good Friday Agreement is profoundly affected by what happens to the border,” he said.

“There’s a partnership available straight away. Go back to the customs union, join the single market. That’ll stop the question of the Northern Ireland border.

“One prediction I make is before this political jihad is over ... we will be back in the customs union.”

The debate continues today.