Devolved nations demand advance sight of Brexit white paper

Written by Tom Freeman on 5 July 2018 in News

Scottish and Welsh ministers claim they have been deliberately kept in the dark at JMC meetings

David Lidington - Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The Scottish and Welsh Governments have demanded advance sight of the UK Government’s white paper on the proposed Brexit deal ahead of joint ministerial talks.

The UK Government is due to present its final preferences to the European Union, but cannot agree on issues such as trade and customs relationships and the Irish border.

Theresa May is to lay out her plans to her own warring cabinet on Friday, with Brexit minister David Davis already thought to make last-ditch attempts to stop May’s ‘third way’ customs plan.

Before that, Cabinet Office minister David Lidington is set to meet with Scottish Constitution Secretary Mike Russell and Welsh Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford today to discuss arrangements with the devolved nations.

Northern Ireland is currently being run directly from Whitehall.

Lidington said: "The last JMC meeting was only a couple of weeks ago but today's meeting is an important point for us to take stock with the Scottish and Welsh governments.

"We are determined to get the best possible Brexit deal for all parts of the UK. This is a good opportunity for those of us in the UK cabinet to hear what the devolved governments have to say."

But in a joint letter Russell and Drakeford said previous discussions about the proposed White Paper had been “unsatisfactory” because they had limited access.

“We were not permitted to see a single word of the draft White Paper in advance of the meeting and could only make our contributions on the basis of a brief, oral summary of the relevant chapters,” the letter said.

“It is particularly bizarre that at least one chapter was sent to our Permanent Secretaries - who are not members of the Forum - while the meeting was underway.

“This in no sense lives up to the assurance that we would have a meaningful opportunity to shape negotiating positions as they are developed.”

It continued: “We will not regard any discussion of the White Paper at next Thursday’s JMC (EN) as meaningful, unless we have been given prior access to the text of the draft White Paper as it currently stands.”

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