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The cabinet secretary mentioned the level playing field provisions in the withdrawal agreement—or, rather, those that have been removed from the withdrawal agreement and put into the weaker, non-binding political declaration.
We know why that has been done—it is because of the hard-right libertarian agenda among some in the UK Government. Just this month, Liz Truss, the Secretary of State for International Trade, said that scrapping those protections is
“vital for giving us the freedom and flexibility to strike new trade deals”.
On the same day, an unnamed Cabinet source told
The Sun that
“The level-playing-field promise has to go”,
“It would seriously restrict our ability to deregulate”.
If the withdrawal agreement bill is brought forward after the election, is there anything in the current devolution settlement that would allow the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government to protect Scotland from that kind of deregulation agenda, even in devolved areas? I ask that in light of the effective abolition by the UK Government of the legislative consent principle.
Has the cabinet secretary withdrawn his legislative consent memorandum on the bill, given that it has fallen for the time being, or will he still ask the Parliament to scrutinise and formally consider the memorandum, given that the bill may come back in some form or another after the election?