MANY independence activists are well aware that the Tory Government backed by other unionist parties has carried out a power grab by snatching back powers that should be going to the Scottish Parliament after Brexit.

Now a relatively new but nevertheless well-known SNP member has raised the frightening spectre that if Brexit becomes an out-and-out disaster, especially in a no deal scenario, Westminster could declare a State of Emergency and suspend the activities of the Scottish Parliament altogether.

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Clive Ponting, the senior civil servant who famously blew the whistle on the Thatcher Government’s lies about the Falklands War, made the declaration at a public meeting in the Borders that the Civil Contingencies Act of 2004 could be used to effectively stop or even reverse devolution.

A member of Kelso and Jedburgh SNP, Ponting expanded on his views exclusively to The National, saying: “If you look at the Civil Contingencies Act, it allows the Government to amend or in effect abolish any piece of legislation except the Human Rights Act. Not to say they would do it, but in theory they could simply abolish the devolution act or amend it by decree. There is also a provision in there that says that any decree they make in Whitehall under the Civil Contingencies Act in theory needs to be approved by Scotland, but the next clause says failure to seek agreement will not invalidate whatever powers they have taken.”

Ponting says much will depend on how Brexit pans out, and if there is a deal the Government will probably not need to declare a State of Emergency. If there is no deal and subsequent chaos, however, Ponting believes the Government will use its emergency powers.

Speaking as someone who knew the inner workings of Government in the Thatcher era, Ponting said: “In the end with these things, what they do depends on how desperate they are and what they think is politically doable. So they might not abolish the Scottish Parliament but they would do things in a way so that most of its powers disappeared.”

In his public speech, Ponting said: “There is no doubt that the Conservatives see Brexit as a way to completely neuter devolution and they are ruthless enough to do it. They say, and I can’t think who would be naive enough to believe them, that the powers that are coming back from Brussels will only be held on a temporary basis for seven years. I don’t think that anybody is stupid enough to believe that sort of stuff.

“If it is no deal I think it is inevitable that the Government will take emergency powers to deal with the problems, and it’s not impossible they could use the powers to dissolve the Scottish Parliament.”