Where Will It End? Towards a New Scottish Devolution Settlement in the Aftermath of Brexit

Tomasz Czapiewski

In the aftermath of the Brexit vote in June 2016, reform of the devolution settlement in Scotland seems to be inevitable. This paper will examine the scope of this change and its likely influence on the Scottish political system. The paper begins with by analysing the current devolution settlement, including the changes resulting from the Scotland Act 2012 and the Scotland Act 2016. The UK's withdrawal from the EU is likely to result in significant policy responsibilities being transferred to Scottish Parliament, most probably the ambits of justice, home affairs, agriculture, fisheries and the environment. In addition, it seems, that Scotland may have rather negligible influence on the process and the final shape of Brexit. Moreover, transfer of powers will require serious renegotiation of Scotland's fiscal framework. This paper explores the possible variants of constitutional reform for Scotland and focuses not only on the devolved matters repatriated from EU, but also on "repatriated competences in reserved area" and "additional powers to protect Scotland's interests" as the Scottish Government's paper 'Scotland's Place in Europe' put it. Are these Scottish Government's proposals politically possible? The answer to this question will be illustrated by analysing the relationship between the Scottish and British governments after the Brexit referendum. The Paper concludes that rethinking devolution would find more friendly reception in Westminster than any type of asymmetrical bespoke arrangement for Scotland in the context of the EU. For Westminster, and indeed the territorial politics of the UK as a whole, the success of this reform is of indisputable importance; it may be the most important factor in averting another independence referendum.

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