Both leaders insist the current plans in the EU Withdrawal bill are a “power grab” on the devolved nations and revealed yesterday that the Scottish and Welsh administrations are to work together on changes to the proposals after talks in Edinburgh.
In a joint statement released after yesterday’s meeting, both leaders said the changes will be designed to protect devolved powers and responsibilities.
They also gave a commitment to keep the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly “fully informed” of the risks posed by the UK Government Bill and the proposed changes.
“The Scottish and Welsh Governments have already made clear that they cannot recommend that the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly give their necessary legislative consent to the Bill. We believe that the Bill must not be allowed to progress in its current form,” the joint statement said.
“To provide a constructive way forward, the Scottish and Welsh Governments are now working to agree potential amendments to the Bill which would address our concerns. We are also coordinating our advice to the Parliament and Assembly to ensure they fully understand our concerns and our alternative proposals.
“It will now be for the UK Government to respond positively to our suggested amendments to move negotiations forward, and ensure there is a functioning legal system on withdrawal from the EU, and agreed UK structures, - where these are required – that reflect the views and interests of all parts of the UK, and respect devolved powers and responsibilities.”
Both governments have previously made clear that they could not recommend legislative consent is given to the UK Government’s proposals as they impose unacceptable constraints on current devolved powers, and are impractical and unworkable in practice.
The EU (Withdrawal) Bill in its current form will see all the powers currently held by Brussels return to Westminster. The UK Government insists this is needed to ensure the “logistics of Brexit runs smoothly, but pledged that new powers will later be passed on to the devolved nations in future. This approach is necessary, UK ministers say, in order to protect the UK since market to ensure that different regulations don’t emerge on either side of the border after Brexit, covering areas like the packaging of Irn Bru bottles.
But the Scottish Government insists that the devolved responsibilities are set out clearly in the Scotland Act which paved the way for Holyrood. These include areas like fishing, farming and justice and these should automatically be devolved at the point of Brexit.
The current row comes as the twentieth anniversary approaches next year of the referendums which brought about the creation of
the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly,” the First Ministers added in their joint statement.
It added: “Since the vote to leave the EU, the approach of the UK Government to withdrawal has been a rejection of the principle of devolution, and the sharing of decision making across these islands, clearly chosen by the people of Scotland and Wales.
“Most recently the UK Government has published position papers which involve the vital interests of Scotland and Wales but which have been prepared without the involvement of the devolved administrations.
Most seriously, the UK Government’s EU (Withdrawal) Bill is an unashamed move to centralise decision making power in Westminster, cutting directly across current devolved powers and responsibilities.”