Brexit must respect devolution, Vince Cable says

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable. Picture: Dan Phillips
Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable. Picture: Dan Phillips
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Brexit must respect Scotland’s devolution settlement, the Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has said ahead of his party’s conference tomorrow.

Mr Cable accused the Conservative Party of having “blundered into” leaving the EU without thinking of the consequences for the UK constitution.

But he stopped short of backing the Scottish Government’s demands for a seat at the table in Brexit talks with the EU.

The Scottish and Welsh governments claim plans to keep certain EU powers in devolved areas like agriculture and the environment at Westminster are a “power grab”, and are demanding changes to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill which will enact Brexit and transfer European law into British statute.

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Speaking to the BBC, Mr Cable said: “The devolution settlement has to be respected and there are points at which the Brexit process collides with the devolution settlement.

“I think one of the basic problems with the whole Brexit negotiation is that the Conservative government blundered into this without any preparation, any thought, any understanding of the complexities, and Scotland, together with Wales, presents a distinct challenge. The devolution settlement must be respected.”

Liberal Democrats will gather for their federal conference in Bournemouth on Saturday, Mr Cable’s first since taking over the party leadership.

In a separate interview with BuzzFeed, the Lib Dem leader admitted the party’s strategy of calling for a second referendum on EU membership at the general election in June “didn’t play well”.

“This was our fault, of course. It came across to people as rerunning the last one, which is not what it’s about,” Mr Cable said.

“So the way I now express it is as a first referendum on the facts, on the evidence, what we will know at the end of the negotiation is the likely path forward. And there’s a choice: Do you press on even if it looks highly uncertain or dangerous, or do you have an exit from Brexit?”

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