I HAVE written columns in the past about what a mess the Brexit process has been, and it continues to be so.

The Prime Minister recently split her cabinet into two groups (a mix of Remainers and Brexiteers in each group), to try and find a workable solution to the EU customs arrangement question. Funnily enough, the two options they were told to assess have both already been declared unrealistic and possibly illegal, but that didn’t seem to matter all that much to the Prime Minister. In fact, it seems the only thing that matters to the Prime Minister is keeping her grip on power by assuaging the warring factions in her own party.

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Both options up for consideration, namely the Customs Partnership, which would see the UK collect tariffs and send them back, and Maximum Facilitation (max-fac for short – probably to make it sound cool as it uses technology) fall far short of Scotland’s best interests. The UK Government’s own leaked analysis shows that their current strategy put up to 80,000 Scottish jobs at risk.

My colleague, SNP Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford put it best: “This Tory government stumbles on but can no longer continue being deaf to the growing chorus of calls to protect our economy, businesses and labour market by remaining in the customs union.”

For all the talking, squabbling, working groups, and meetings, a solution is still nowhere in sight and another week comes to a close with uncertainty prevailing.

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Speaking of the Tories’ deaf ears, this week the Scottish Parliament voted to refuse consent on the EU Withdrawal Bill. It was an historic moment as it was the first time in the parliament’s twenty year run that they have done so. The motion to refuse consent was backed by the SNP, Labour, the LibDems and the Greens. Only the Tories voted to give consent to the Withdrawal Bill.

As I am sure you will know, when the referendum result was announced, we were assured that this was a positive thing for Scotland as there would be a “powers bonanza” for Holyrood. As with every promise the Tories make however, it quickly became clear that what they say isn’t actually the case. In fact, the UK Government actually intended to use Brexit as an opportunity to grab devolved powers back as they returned from Brussels.

The particular clause in the Withdrawal Bill that lead to refusal of consent is Clause 11. Clause 11 in its current form essentially states that on matters that infringe on devolved areas but affect the whole UK, such as fisheries or food standards, the Scottish Parliament will have given their consent if they agree with the UK Government, disagree with the UK Government, or don’t give an opinion either way. I do not believe anyone in their right mind would call that consent. Consent would surely look more like: the UK Government makes a proposal, and only if the Scottish Parliament vote to agree it, they then take that proposal ahead. The idea that this clause would appease the Scottish Parliament, or indeed the Scottish people who didn’t even vote for Brexit in the first place, is truly perplexing.

It simply is not good enough for the Tories to continue pushing the Withdrawal Bill without making amendments that end this power grab. Scotland’s democratically elected Scottish Parliament must be listened to – as it always has for the past 20 years. A sudden change in this convention will be just another example of why the Tories cannot be trusted to protect Scotland’s interests.

Any suggestion from the Tories or the press that this is a grievance based non-issue would do well to remember that Labour, the LibDems and the Greens all voted alongside the SNP. The Withdrawal Bill as it stands attacks the fundamentals of the devolution settlement. The parties just mentioned have various positions on the constitutional future of Scotland, but we are all in agreement that this bill attacks the devolution settlement and must be amended.

As SNP MSP Ash Denham put it:

“The Scottish Parliament has spoken loudly and clearly – it’s now up to the UK Government to respect that vote and ditch their power grab.”

In times like these, I think back to the independence referendum in 2014 and remember when Scottish people were told to “lead, not leave” the UK. It’s a decent soundbite, and some maybe even believed that the UK Government would make a considered effort to take the Scottish view into account during their decision-making processes. Those people are surely bitterly disappointed, as the government continues to ignore the will of the Scottish people in the EU referendum, and now as they continue to ignore the will of the Scottish Parliament.