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Nicola Sturgeon issues stark warning to Boris Johnson – Brexit 'a risk' to handling COVID

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It comes after Scotland’s Constitution Secretary Mike Russell said there was no trust between Westminster and Holyrood following the UK internal market vote last night. Speaking to the Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union, Mr Russell warned that communication had got “significantly worse since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister”.

He added: “There is in my view a hostility to devolution in the current Government.

“We have been in such a difficult set of circumstances for so long that it would be difficult to find a way in which we could work constructively together, there is no trust in the relationship, absolutely none now.”

When asked about the comments during today’s First Minister’s briefing and whether she thought the UK Internal Market Bill was a distraction to tackling COVID-19, Ms Sturgeon said: “Yeah, that is a risk but I’m not going to go any further than that.”

Edinburgh says Westminster was attempting to “bypass the Scottish Government” by giving UK ministers powers in areas that are reserved for Edinburgh through the new legislation.

The United Kingdom Internal Market Bill will give ministers the power to fund infrastructure and development anywhere in the UK.

But Edinburgh says it is an attack on devolution because areas such as transport and regional development are reserved powers held by Holyrood and lodged a motion along with the Lib Dems, Greens and Labour.

Several senior Tories also raised severe concerns after Northern Ireland Minister Brandon Lewis admitted the Bill breached international law.

But, last night, MPs gave the UK Internal Market Bill the green-light by 340 to 263 – a Government majority of 77 in its first Commons test.

READ MORE: SNP could force through Brexit laws at Holyrood after losing Brexit

He added: “I have heard the argument repeatedly made that the Bill enhances the devolution settlement.

“I don’t accept that for a second and I haven’t had anybody point me to a section where those powers are conferred.”

Mr Russell continued: “What is here is undoubtedly, without a shadow of doubt, an enormous assault on the devolved powers.

“For example, an American health company that wished to operate in Scotland in a certain way and was not able to do so under current regulations could successfully go to law under this Bill and force its way in, and that is a real concern.”



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