Sturgeon accused of ‘chilling SNP power grab’ after refusing to ditch emergency powers

Nicola Sturgeon slammed by Cole-Hamilton over Covid powers

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Edinburgh Western MSP accused Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP of  “talking a good game” over the importance of democracy and of a “power-grab”. Nicola Sturgeon repeatedly said that she would give up on the emergency powers as soon as necessary but has yet to do so.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “We wholeheartedly reject this power-grab and the cynical quite frankly chilling politics that it represents.”

“The Liberal Democrats see it as one of our core duties to stand up for civil liberties and democracy: the clue is in our name.

“The SNP talks a good game about the importance of democracy when it suits them but this bill demonstrates that they do not possess the necessary wisdom and humility to safeguard it.”

The criticism levelled at Nicola Sturgeon comes as MSPs had voted to support the Coronavirus Recovery and Reform bill which will allow Scotland’s Government to enforce lockdowns without parliamentary approval.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats had called on MSPs to block the controversial ‘Henry VIII’ powers. The bill will also allow the Government to close schools and shut down hospitality and tourism businesses.

Mr Cole-Hamilton continued: “We do need something better; I should say but this bill is not it.

“Let’s not forget that during the recent pandemic, the government needed the scrutiny of Parliament to prevent them taking the gratuitous step of stopping jury trials for the first time in 800 years.”

“The scrutiny of this Parliament really, really matters”, Mr Cole-Hamilton said.

“Nicola Sturgeon has said many times that she didn’t want for a moment longer than necessary.

“And yet, here we are.”

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“The SNP talks a good game about the importance of democracy when it suits them but this bill demonstrates that they do not possess the necessary wisdom and humility to safeguard it”, Mr Cole-Hamilton said. 

Following the parliament’s approval of the bill, deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “While it is vital that Government has the legal powers required to protect the public in the event of any future public health threats, it is equally important that Parliament has the opportunity to scrutinise the use of those powers.”

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