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Scottish Government rejects deal with UK Government over EU powers, while Welsh Government reaches compromise

Michael Russell - Scottish Parliament

Scottish Government rejects deal with UK Government over EU powers, while Welsh Government reaches compromise

The Scottish Government has rejected the latest deal with the UK Government over powers repatriated from Brussels after Brexit.

In a statement to MSPs, Scotland’s Brexit minister Michael Russell said the latest compromise had been rejected due to a clause which would restrict the Scottish Parliament’s powers for a period of seven years.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Government announced it had reached an agreement with UK ministers over the terms.

Both the Scottish and Welsh governments had labelled the original drafting of the UK-wide EU Withdrawal bill a “power grab”, and had passed emergency legislation to transfer EU law to their respective parliaments if an agreement couldn’t be reached.

The UK Government said it had made a “considerable offer” by way of a compromise.

Russell told MSPs Scottish ministers that Clause 11 of the EU Withdrawal bill – which refers to powers normally devolved to the Scottish and Welsh parliaments – as the “main sticking point”.

"We cannot support any proposal that would enable the powers of the Scottish parliament to be constrained, he said.

“The UK government has no mandate to undermine the powers of this parliament.”

Scottish Conservative and Labour MSPs suggested Russell had been prepared to accept the deal before an intervention from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said: “The Welsh Government has signed up to this deal. Yet Nicola Sturgeon, alone, refuses because she prefers to pick a fight with the rest of the UK in order to keep her obsession with a second independence referendum alive.”

Scottish Labour’s Brexit spokesperson Neil Findlay MSP said: “This process should not be about constitutional wrangling between the SNP and the Tories. It is about protecting jobs, consumer safeguards and our environment. 

“We have been told time and again that the SNP would act in good faith and try to secure the right deal with the UK’s governments that would protect devolution. 

“Reports that a deal was on the table, only to be vetoed by Nicola Sturgeon, would be a betrayal of the Scottish Parliament’s good faith.

“The fact the Government of Wales has reached an agreement but the Scottish Government has not is a real concern.”

Speaking to the BBC after the deal was struck, Welsh Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said: "London has changed its position so that all powers and policy areas rest in Cardiff, unless specified to be temporarily held by the UK government.

"These will be areas where we all agree common, UK-wide rules are needed for a functioning UK internal market.

"In a devolved UK the respective governments need to deal with each other as equals and this agreement is a step in the right direction."

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