Chequers Brexit plan is not dead, insists Scottish Secretary

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The Scottish Secretary has urged politicians to rally round the Prime Minister’s Chequers plan for Brexit, denying it is a “dead duck”.

Under questioning from MSPs, David Mundell declined to rule out supporting a no-deal Brexit but said he would not promote it.

He said Theresa May’s Chequers deal, which EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is reported to have said is “dead” and has deepened Conservative splits, is “still live and still on the table”.

At Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee, Mr Mundell was responding to questioning by MSP Willie Coffey, who asked: “Mr Mundell, are you seriously asking us to believe that the Chequers proposal isn’t a dead duck – you can’t get it past your own party.”

The MSP repeatedly urged Mr Mundell to unequivocally rule out supporting a no-deal Brexit, which the Scottish Secretary did not answer directly.

David Mundell
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said he supports the Chequers deal (Andrew Cowen/Scottish Parliament/PA)

He also declined to guarantee the UK Government will not impose frameworks on devolved matters following Brexit.

Mr Mundell said he and the UK Government want to reach agreement with the devolved administrations on the frameworks, which cover areas including agriculture and fishing.

The Scottish Parliament refused to grant consent for the UK Withdrawal Bill in a row over post-Brexit powers, with the Scottish Government accusing Westminster of a “power grab”.

Committee convener Bruce Crawford asked Mr Mundell three times to guarantee the UK Government will not impose frameworks on Scotland after Brexit, saying the UK Government pushed ahead with the withdrawal Bill without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Secretary replied: “No common framework has been imposed on Scotland.”

Bruce Crawford
Committee convener Bruce Crawford pushed for a guarantee on post-Brexit frameworks for devolved powers (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA)

He added: “It is still absolutely my position, the UK Government position, that we want to reach those frameworks by agreement.”

Mr Crawford questioned: “If no agreement is reached, will a common framework be imposed?”

Mr Mundell replied: “We don’t want to be in a position where we don’t have agreement, we want to be in a position where we reach agreement.”

Mr Crawford said he had “not been able” to secure the guarantee he had been seeking.

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