SCOTTISH voters believe the BBC has not done enough to inform the public about what the impact of the UK’s Internal Market Bill will be on the Scottish Parliament, according to a poll.
The survey by Panelbase found that 77% of people thought the broadcaster had given insufficient information about how the legislation would affect Holyrood’s powers. Just 23% of Scots thought the BBC had informed the public sufficiently.
The polling company also found people from opposing sides of the constitutional divide shared this view, though among Yes voters the proportion was much higher with 85% believing the corporation had not done enough to inform the public about the legislation’s potential impact on Holyrood. Among No voters, that view was held by 70%.
The survey of 1020 Scots by Panelbase was carried out for the pro-independence Scot Goes Pop polling blog.
Holyrood refused to give consent to the bill in a vote last month following a recommendation by the Scottish Government.
Ahead of the debate Scottish Constitution Secretary Mike Russell said it was a “defining moment” in the relationship between the Scottish Government in Edinburgh and Johnson’s Conservative administration in London – as he insisted the bill should be “stone dead” without the formal backing of MSPs.
UK ministers say the legislation is necessary to ensure the “seamless functioning” of the internal market when the UK is no longer bound to follow rules and standards set in Brussels. But the bill has proved hugely controversial because some of its elements legally overwrite sections of the Withdrawal Agreement agreed with Brussels last year, and because the Scottish and Welsh governments regard it as an unprecedented “power grab”.
The UK Government has conceded the legislation will breach international law by overwriting legal obligations created by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement that came into force in January. It also hands ministers sweeping powers to override two elements of the Northern Ireland protocol that Boris Johnson agreed last October in order to avoid a return to a hard border in Ireland.
The bill ignores the objections of Welsh and Scottish officials who insist that questions of government subsidies — decided in Brussels before Brexit — were devolved to them from Westminster in the 1990s.
The bill makes clear that the devolved nations will have to allow the sale of imported goods permitted by the UK Government for England – regardless of whether they would meet their own quality, production or labelling standards.
“Goods which … have been produced in, or imported into, one part of the UK … and can lawfully be sold there … should be able to be sold in any other part of the UK,” it says.
Scottish and Welsh ministers agree there should be a cross-UK approach but fear London will accept lower agricultural standards to seal trade deals with the US and some Pacific countries, and that mutual recognition risks a “race to the bottom”.
For example, if the Scottish Parliament legislated to ban the sale of chlorinated chicken as a response to a UK-US trade deal, the proposals under the bill would enable the UK Government to overrule the decision.
Mutual recognition includes professional qualifications and, while some particularly sensitive areas, such as healthcare and legal services, are excluded, education is not The bill also gives authority to Westminster to spend money in devolved areas, allowing direct funding of infrastructure, education, and cultural and sporting activities judged to “directly or indirectly benefit the UK”.
A BBC Scotland spokesman said: “It’s disappointing that this poll appears to suggest that those asked may have missed much of our coverage of the IMB, particularly as a Survation poll earlier this year (for Prospect and BECTU) showed that BBC TV News was where most of those polled went to for trusted political News , well ahead of other news providers, including websites and newspapers.
“On Good Morning Scotland, for example, it was discussed regularly and among those we interviewed about it were German MEP David McAllister, Baroness Kennedy, Paul Scully, Mike Russell, Stephen Tierney and Joanna Cherry. It was covered regularly on The Nine, Reporting Scotland, Gaelic News and on our website and included concerns raised about the bill by the First Minister, Tommy Sheppard and the General Teaching Council.”
— to www.thenational.scot