IAN BLACKFORD has warned MPs that the Tory Internal Market Bill will “grab the powers back that were returned to Scotland 21 years ago.”

Speaking in the Commons durings the proposed 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 Scottish Government’s record during the coronavirus pandemic had led to a growth in the “conviction and belief” in devolved government from the people of Scotland. 

“People have seen the exceptional leadership of our first minister throughout the course of this terrible pandemic. It's reaffirmed their faith and confidence in our institutions, and our governance and in our nation. Our people have come to a simple but powerful conclusion; decisions about Scotland, are best made in Scotland.”

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He said the Tories had  “never been able to reconcile themselves to that truth.” 

“Instead of accepting the right of Scottish people to choose their own future, they are 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. “

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.”

Despite Blackford being only the fourth speaker in the debate, the Prime Minister had long gone before the SNP MP got to his feet. 

He was humiliated by former Labour leader Ed Miliband.

In his speech, the Prime Minister said the legislation was necessary to protect the Northern Ireland peace process if London and Brussels are unable to agree a free trade deal before the current Brexit transition period runs out at the end of the year.

"What we cannot do now is tolerate a situation where our EU counterparts seriously believe that they have the power to break up our country," Johnson said.

"We do not relish the prospect of having to use these powers, at all. We hope very much ... that the EU will be reasonable."

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Miliband was up next. He was standing in for Kier Starmer who is self isolating after one of his household "showed possible symptoms of the coronavirus".

He challenged the Prime Minister to say which part of his Internal Market bill would, as he had previously claimed, stop a "blockade" of goods between Great Britain into Northern Ireland.

Johnson failed to do so.

Miliband said: "He didn’t read the protocol, he hasn’t read the Bill, he doesn’t know his stuff."

Miliband warned MPs that passing the legislation would "equip the Government with the power to break the law", adding the Government wants to create the "Johnson defence".

He said the Tory leader needed to take responsibility.

"He can’t blame the judges, he can't blame the civil servants, he can’t sack the cabinet secretary again, there's only one person responsible for it and that's him. This is his deal, his mess, his failure.

"For the first time in his life it’s time to take responsibility. It’s time to fess up. Either he wasn't straight with the country in the first place or he didn't understand it."