The United Kingdom has formally notified the European Union of its intention to leave the European Union. Next up is the Great Repeal Bill, which will essentially copy-paste EU law into UK law to prevent a discontinuity on the day the UK membership ceases. However, some of it is devolved:

The Scottish Parliament will get its own vote on the repeal bill and the UK government is working on the basis that it will need the consent of MSPs to get it through.

There is a large pro-Remain majority in Scotland, and a very large pro-Remain majority in Holyrood. It is not beyond imagination that they will reject the bill. What would be the consequences if Holyrood rejects its version of the Great Repeal Bill?

  • 1
    Nothing; London simply ignores Scotland. Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 12:56

3 Answers 3


It's unclear at the moment.

The Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell has mentioned that:

“There will be issues around the powers for this parliament. And there will be issues around whether we have a hole in our law because the body of European law has not been adopted.

Some have also stated that the UK Parliament can overrule Holyrood though it might trigger a constitutional crisis.

Nevertheless, if Westminster proceeded with the Bill regardless of rejection at Holyrood, it could lead to a constitutional crisis, as Westminster has never over-ruled Holyrood since the start of devolution in 1999.

So, it's quite unclear at the moment what actions the UK Parliament might take if Scotland indeeds rejects the bill. The statements by David Mundell seem to be the clearest indication yet.


What Philipp says, but I'll add the consequence of a EU regulation ceasing to be enforceable law in the UK, without having a replacement in place, would mean lawlessness in that area.

In many cases, there will be a UK law created that is identical to the EU regulation, so on the day that the UK leaves the EU there is no actual change in the law. If the government isn't happy with some of the current regulations, they can change the UK law at leisure over the next 50 years. There would just be no time to do this over the next two years.

There will be EU regulations, estimated 10%, that cannot just be copied word by word and made UK law, because they refer to the EU in a way that wouldn't make sense in UK law. For example a regulation might say "in situation A, EU regulation X applies". You can't make this UK law. The sentence has to be changed to "in situation A, UK law X applies". Doing that for 1,000 or so regulations costs time, and of course all 10,000 or so regulations must be checked. You can't rush this, or you might end up with some ridiculous laws if mistakes are made in the process.

Now I am totally annoyed and angered with the whole Brexit situation, but what I wrote is just common sense: If the UK leaves the EU, then what I described above must be done. If the Scottish government rejects this bill, then either May finds a way to still implement this bill, or there will be a total disaster the day the UK leaves the EU. But then the only reasonable way to avoid that disaster is to delay the actual exit. (The other EU members could rightfully say that this isn't their problem and refuse a delay).

  • Well, the Scottish parliament could instead adopt a law with a single line, stating "EU law applies in Scotland". But that's speculation.
    – gerrit
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 10:10
  • @gerrit: No, they can't: Scottish devolution is limited in scope. Such a statement is far in excess of the delegated powers, to the point of being null and void. They'd have to import EU law in bits and pieces. E.g. take the education cooperation, but ignore the entire Common Market law.
    – MSalters
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 14:30
  • @MSalters I meant considering only those parts within their delegated powers. Like the "great repeal bill" copy-pasting EU law into Westminster or Holyrood law, but without the repeal bit. Trying to follow EU law as closely as possible as far as they can within their delegated powers, as the SNP hopes Scotland will one day be an independent EU member state, and presumably the closer Scottish law is to EU law the easier it would be to become a member.
    – gerrit
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 14:40
  • There's no reason it can't read "in situation A, EU regulation X snapshot XX/YY/20ZZ applies".
    – Joshua
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 15:22

Any EU regulations are enforceable law in all EU member states. That means they will cease to be valid in the UK the day their EU membership ends, unless the UK makes laws which confirm them.

EU directives, however, require to be implemented with local laws in the EU member states. That means any laws the UK made in order to comply with EU directives will stay valid unless explicitly repealed.

  • I know. But I'm not sure of the implications as stated in the question.
    – gerrit
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 15:16

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