Nicola Sturgeon hits out after Tory peer suggests Scottish devolution can ‘evolve back’

NICOLA Sturgeon has warned the “Tories are coming for devolution” after a senior Conservative peer suggested devolved powers could be returned to Westminster.

Lord Frost, a former UK Government Brexit minister, has claimed that the expansion of devolved powers to the Scottish Parliament over the years is playing into the campaign for independence and should be reversed.

He has also touted that a second referendum is “impossible” without “75 per cent of seats in the Scottish Parliament in favour of independence” over a 10-year period – an unrealistic mandate for any side of the constitutional debate.

Writing in the Telegraph, Lord Frost has suggested that the devolution settlement that set up the Scottish Parliament in 1999 “is not written in stone”.

He added: “It has evolved – all in one direction – since 1999. It can evolve back, too.”

Lord Frost said: “We can begin by stopping mission creep.

“The devolved administrations do not have powers in foreign relations or immigration – they are ‘reserved matters’. So why was the SNP able to control who came into the country during the pandemic on the basis of public health laws? Why are they spending taxpayers’ money on their own ’embassies’ overseas?

“If the UK Government does not police these boundaries, soon they will no longer exist.”

Lord Frost has claimedthere needs to be more clarity over the terms for any second independence referendum “which reflects the reality that it is wholly exceptional for states to allow their own dissolution”.

He added: “Of course, any government would have to respect the settled will of an overwhelming majority in Scotland to govern themselves.

“But those terms have to be defined. I would suggest 75 per cent of seats in the Scottish Parliament in favour of independence, over a 10-year period, legally binding. Without that, a referendum should simply be impossible.”

But Ms Sturgeon has hit out at the analysis, warning that the Conservatives are threatening to reverse Scottish devolution.

Writing on Twitter, the First Minister said: “Make no mistake, the Tories are coming for devolution.

“If we don’t decide to entrench the Scottish Parliament through independence, its powers will be eroded – forced, according to this by one of the architects of the Brexit disaster, to ‘evolve back’.”

But Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston labelled Ms Sturgeon’s reaction “utter nonsense”.

He added: “The SNP has always opposed devolution and worked against it. But devolution isn’t responsible for the growing crisis in Scotland’s NHS, or councils under severe financial pressure or Scotland’s transport nightmare.

“Sturgeon and her failing SNP ministers are.”

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