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Nicola Sturgeon: still time for EU withdrawal bill agreement

Nicola Sturgeon has said there is still time to secure an agreement on vital Brexit legislation as UK Ministers were urged to come to Scotland to hear Holyrood's concerns.

The First Minister told MSPs the Scottish Government was continuing to press the UK Government to listen to the concerns of the Scottish Parliament over the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Holyrood voted by 93 to 30 against giving formal consent to the legislation, which has been branded it a "power grab" by SNP ministers.

Speaking during First Minister's Questions, Ms Sturgeon urged the Scottish Tories to "stand up for the rights" of the Scottish Parliament.

She said: "We continue to ask the UK Government to listen to and more importantly respect the view of this parliament which was so decisively expressed in the vote on Tuesday.

"The requirement in the convention to respect the views of this parliament and not to proceed with legislation that affects the powers of this parliament without our consent is not a nicety, it is not an add-on, it is a fundamentally important part of our constitutional settlement - those are actually the words of (Tory MSP) Adam Tomkins just a matter of weeks ago.

"So I would hope that the Tories would stand up for the rights of this Parliament and demand like we do that the UK Government listens.

"There is still time to get an agreement on this, but an agreement can only be reached if it respects the rights of this parliament and is based on the fundamentally important principle of the consent, genuine consent, of this parliament."

Meanwhile Scotland's Brexit Minister Mike Russell urged UK Ministers to come to Scotland to hear the concerns over the Bill first hand.

He said: "The Scottish Parliament made it explicitly clear that the current EU Withdrawal Bill as it stands is not acceptable. It must now not be imposed.

"In accordance with the motion agreed in the vote, I call on the UK Government to come to Scotland and hear the concerns from across the Parliament, and to amend the bill.

"The Scottish Government and Parliament have already set out a clear way forward - either remove the legislative constraint and proceed on the basis of mutual trust, or amend the bill so the Parliament's consent is required before any orders are made. The ball is in the UK Government's court.

"The UK Government are asking the Scottish Parliament to trust that they will not take powers without our consent, yet if they fail to amend this bill after Parliament has refused consent they will have demonstrated exactly why the current proposals cannot be approved.

"The clock is ticking and we need urgent action that respects the position of the Scottish Parliament and the devolution settlement the people of Scotland voted for."

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