David Mundell '˜confident' of Scottish Brexit '˜power grab' changes

The Scottish Secretary has said he is confident amendments can be made to flagship Brexit legislation around powers for the devolved governments.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell. Picture: PA

David Mundell said progress was being made with the Scottish and Welsh Governments on the powers in the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

He added he would be “very pleased” if an amendment to the Bill could be agreed after a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Council tomorrow.

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The proposals in the Bill would see all powers initially return to Westminster before some are passed onto the devolved legislatures in full and others are incorporated into UK-wide frameworks.

The devolved administrations do not oppose joint frameworks in principle, but have described the plans as they exist in Clause 11 of the Withdrawal Bill as a “naked power grab”.

“I’m confident that we will be able to bring forward such amendments,” Mr Mundell told MPs at Scottish questions.

“We are in significant discussions with the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Government.

“They both acknowledge that we have tabled to them a significant proposal for changing the Bill and I hope to hear their detailed response to that tomorrow.”

Mr Mundell added: “I remain very positive about being able to reach agreement with both the Welsh Government and the Scottish Government.

“I believe they are sincere in their expressed view that they wish to reach such an agreement and we will take every step in ensuring that we negotiate to a position where we can reach that agreement.”

Mr Mundell went on to say he wanted to make sure the Scottish Parliament had more powers and responsibilities than it does today and that any frameworks should be not be imposed.

Shadow Scotland secretary Lesley Laird said the Government was facing a “constitutional crisis” and urged Mr Mundell to “fix the mess that he’s made of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill”.

She added: “We are 20 months on from the EU referendum. We’re a year away from leaving the EU.

“Yet Scotland’s invisible man in the Cabinet can’t even blag himself an invite to the away day at Chequers to discuss Brexit.

“Does he have a plan to fix this mess, or is he going to continue to front up a Government that’s trampling all over the devolution settlement for Scotland?”

SNP MP Hannah Bardell (Livingston) said: “Has the Secretary of State given up on getting consent of the Scottish Parliament for any changes to its powers on the devolved settlement that this Tory Government has to make?

“Or is he so out of the loop he no longer gets invited to Cabinet meetings, and has quite simply become an irrelevance?”

Mr Mundell replied: “I don’t know who briefs her, but the Joint Ministerial Council for EU negotiations is meeting tomorrow.

“We’re meeting with Mike Russell and Mark Drakeford and we’re hoping to take forward solid progress that we’ve achieved over the course of these meetings.”

He added: “I would be very pleased if after tomorrow’s meeting of the JMC, we’re able to bring forward an agreed amendment that can be lodged in the House of Lords.

“That’s certainly the aspiration of the UK Government.”

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