Scottish and UK ministers clash over ‘power grab’ claims

Scottish Brexit minister Michael Russell
Scottish Brexit minister Michael Russell
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The Scottish Government has rejected claims by Theresa May’s deputy that the UK Government has ended fears of a Westminster “power grab” after Brexit.

Talks between the UK and devolved administrations yesterday resulted in a commitment to respect the devolution settlement when agreeing how to assign new responsibilities returning from Brussels, but failed to lift the threat of a constitutional crisis over Brexit legislation.

The Scottish and Welsh governments have raised serious concerns over the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which will see EU responsibilities in areas which would normally fall to devolved governments initially transferred to Westminster.

First Secretary of State Damian Green claimed progress meant “talk of a power grab is now behind us”. However, Scottish Brexit minister Michael Russell said: “We remain unable to recommend the Scottish Parliament consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill as currently drafted and will not be able to do so until the power grab is removed from the bill.

“I have and will continue to press for the amendments suggested by ourselves and the Welsh Government to be accepted, removing the power grab and providing a clear solution that respects devolution.”

The UK Government has said it is necessary to bring powers back to Westminster before devolving them in order to develop common frameworks and prevent trade barriers being created within the UK.

Mr Green described the meeting as “very constructive” and “successful”.