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by Margaret Taylor
02 June 2023
Humza Yousaf joins with Welsh first minister to demand Westminster respects devolution

Humza Yousaf joins with Welsh first minister to demand Westminster respects devolution

First Minister Humza Yousaf has joined with the first minister of Wales to urge the UK Government to respect devolution and live up to the jointly agreed principles of mutual respect, trust, effective communication and accountability.

Yousaf met with Mark Drakeford in Edinburgh ahead of a rally led by former prime minister Gordon Brown that saw a number of Labour Party leaders call for a more equal and cooperative union.

In a statement released following the meeting, Yousaf and Drakeford said the UK Government – which recently blocked the Scottish Government’s gender reform legislation and has demanded changes be made to the controversial Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in order for it to be granted an Internal Markets Act exemption – must ensure it abides by the principles laid out in the Inter-Governmental Relations Review.

Published last year following consultation between the UK and devolved administrations, the review saw each government agree to work more collaboratively together.

Yousaf has accused the UK Government of undermining devolution with its blocks on Holyrood law-making and has also said it is “riding roughshod” over the DRS by demanding glass is excluded from the scheme in order for it to go ahead.

At their meeting, Yousaf and Drakeford discussed “the urgent need for the UK Government to end repeated breaches of the Sewel Convention [which requires the devolved administrations to give their consent for the UK parliament to legislate on a matter that is within devolved competence] and engage in good faith in common frameworks designed to manage different policy approaches across the UK following EU exit”.

They also agreed they will "continue to work closely to protect devolution”.

Earlier in the day Yousaf had accused Scottish Labour of failing to “stand up for the Scottish Parliament’s right to make our own choices” by remaining “silent” on Westminster’s block to the DRS.

“Labour in Wales shares Scotland’s anger about the treatment of devolved parliaments; they share out ambition to have glass included,” he said during First Minister’s Questions.

“There was a time when Labour in Scotland did stand up for the Scottish Parliament’s right to make our own choices.

“I shudder to think what greats like John Smith or Donald Dewar, those architects of devolution, what they would be thinking about Scottish Labour’s complete and utter silence at the fact that the Conservatives time and time again want to undermine devolution.”

Last night Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar joined with Drakeford and Brown as well as West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin and Manchester mayor Andy Burnham to launch the Alliance for Radical Democratic Change, an organisation that will campaign for wide-ranging reforms to the UK state.

Key demands of the alliance, which has been launched as part of the Brown-led think tank Our Scottish Future, will be an end to Whitehall centralisation, better cooperation between all levels of government and more powers for cities and regions across the UK to help them develop effective economic growth.

Speaking ahead of the event, Drakeford said: “We need a new, strengthened union, which guarantees that no one will find themselves unable to eat or relying on a food bank, facing old age or illness at the margins of society. A union which offers strong devolution for all parts of the UK, a union where all four nations are treated as equals.”

Writing in The Scotsman earlier in the week Brown said: “We need to begin the major reform of Britain so that the way we run ourselves is more democratic, less corrupt, and more responsive to the wishes of people from across our diverse nation.”

“We desperately need the new modern institutions, reflective of the values we hold, which ensure power is shared across Britain, not handed down from on high. We need Westminster and Whitehall to show more respect to people who, as another survey shows, feel neglected, forgotten, ignored and patronised as second-class citizens.

“A new alliance of people from across Scotland, England and Wales demanding change shows we are moving closer together, not further apart.”

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