Devolved governments publish Brexit bill amendments

Written by Tom Freeman on 19 September 2017 in News

'Work with us, not against us' Welsh FM Carwyn Jones tells Theresa May as devolved nations publish amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill

Scottish Parliament - Scottish Parliament

The Scottish and Welsh Governments have published amendments to the UK European Union (Withdrawal) Bill that would be needed before they could endorse the legislation.

Both the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments will hold votes on consent for the bill, which repatriates laws from the EU, but First Ministers Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones have said this will not be forthcoming unless “hard-fought devolution settlements” are respected.

This would require substantial changes from what both have a called a “naked power grab” by UK ministers.

Jones tweeted: “We call on Theresa May to work with the devolved nations, not against us.”


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Devolved areas affected are thought to include agriculture, fisheries, environmental regulation, public sector procurement and land use.

The amendments seek to ensure all the listed areas are returned to the devolved parliaments and prevent UK ministers altering the devolution settlement unilaterally.

Scotland’s Brexit minister Michael Russell said: “We have made it repeatedly clear that we are not opposed in principle to UK-wide arrangements, but devolved policy areas must come back to the Scottish Parliament, where they properly lie, and then we can work towards an agreement.”

Russell also said he had written to the Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Constitution Committee with a list of over 100 devolved policy areas at risk from the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

The Scottish Conservatives warned the Scottish Government not to “sow division”.

Last week, deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said the party would work with the SNP to come up with a legislative consent motion everyone was happy with.

“This list simply sets out the policy areas currently controlled by the European Union that are coming back to the UK,” he said.

“Some will be best controlled by Holyrood, and it may be beneficial to have different approaches across the UK. Other areas should be left at a UK level so we don’t fracture the UK internal market.

“The test is simple. Let’s devolve what we can, but keep UK rules where necessary.”

UK First Secretary of State Damien Green said the UK Government would continue to work with the devolved administrations on the bill.

“Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast will receive more decision making powers as a result of this process,” he said.

“But the UK Government will not risk our internal UK market, or make life more difficult or more expensive for UK companies, workers or consumers. We all observe the same broad EU rules now.

“Doing things four different ways - in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - will not be the best way if it adds costs to companies and customers across the UK.

“I hope and expect that we can make progress in the talks that are planned for the coming week.”

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