TWO of Scotland’s top constitutional lawyers have backed the Scottish Government over the competence of its EU Continuity Bill.

Leading Strathclyde University academics Professor Aileen McHarg and Dr Christopher McCorkindale made their comments in evidence submitted to the Scottish Parliament’s Constitution Committee.

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They say they consider that both the Scottish bill and the Welsh Government’s equivalent “are within devolved competence”.

The Scottish bill seeks to repatriate 111 areas of European Union responsibility to the Scottish Parliament after Brexit, a move that is being resisted by Prime Minister Theresa May and her Government

Holyrood’s presiding officer, MSP Ken McIntosh, has claimed the bill falls outwith the Scottish Parliament’s remit, although the Lord Advocate, James Wolffe said it had been “carefully framed” to be in line with UK and EU law.

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The support from McHarg and McCorkindale follows similar backing last week from fellow constitutional law expert Professor Tom Mullen, of Glasgow University.

SNP MSP Ash Denham, who sits on Holyrood’s Constitution Committee, said: “This Bill is vital in protecting the Scottish Parliament’s powers – and it is only going forward because the Tories are attempting to take powers away from the Scottish Parliament after Brexit. If they stop the power grab, the bill can be withdrawn.

“However, this backing from Professor McHarg and Dr McCorkindale adds more weight to the Scottish Government’s position that the Continuity Bill, along with the Welsh Government’s Continuity Bill, is legitimate and within devolved competence.”

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However, McHarg and McCorkindale have also predicted that either the Scottish or Welsh bill will end up in court. Writing for in an article entitled Continuity and Confusion: Legislating for Brexit in Scotland and Wales, they say: “If the legislation is not withdrawn and – as seems likely – is passed by the devolved legislatures – it is almost certain that one or both Bills will end up before the courts.”

They added: “The unlikely alliance between an SNP Government in (Remain-voting) Scotland and a Labour Government in (Leave-voting) Wales has created an effective bulwark against those critics for whom objections to the Withdrawal Bill are too easily dismissed as manufactured ‘grievance and division’, and so strengthens the hand of the devolved governments at the negotiating table.”

The experts agree the extent of the differences between the Scottish Continuity Bill and the UK Withdrawal Bill “may increase or reduce depending on what amendments (if any) are made to the two bills as they complete their respective parliamentary passages”.