The UK and Scottish Governments clashed over which side’s approach to post-Brexit powers risks undermining devolution, as the chances of deal to resolve the ongoing constitutional row all but disappeared last night.
Responding to the publication of the UK Government’s amendments to crucial Brexit legislation, Scottish government minister Michael Russell claimed it was “now crystal clear in terms never seen before that the Scottish Parliament can be over-ridden by the UK Government”.
But the Scottish Secretary David Mundell suggested the SNP’s refusal to follow the Welsh Government in agreeing to the amendments meant it doesn’t believe in devolution, Scottish Secretary David Mundell said as the Prime Minister called on the Scottish Government to reconsider.
Mr Mundell told MPs the “difference is that the Welsh Government believe in devolution and the Scottish Government believe in independence”. Theresa May said it was “disappointing” that the Scottish Government was not accepting “considerable changes” to the EU Withdrawal Bill in a continuing row over post-Brexit devolved powers.
Last night peers were briefed on the agreement between London and Cardiff. The split between the Welsh and Scottish government appears to have removed any risk that the Lords could reject the devolution provisions of the Withdrawal Bill, with Labour peer Lord Foulkes saying: “The approval by the Welsh Government shows it is a reasonable compromise. The SNP are putting party dogma ahead of achieving an agreement.”
Despite UK Government sources saying that London had made its final offer, Brexit Secretary David Davis told MPs that last ditch talks were taking place.
Mr Russell is expected in London for talks next week, but a breakthrough is thought to be unlikely.
Under the terms of the agreement between the UK and Welsh governments, UK ministers will seek the consent of devolved administrations to keep control of 24 devolved powers returning from Brussels after Brexit, but will be able to overrule any objections from Edinburgh or Cardiff.
New amendments to the Withdrawal Bill tabled yesterday will introduce a “sunset clause” extending five years from the end of the post-Brexit transition phase, so that devolved powers do not stay at Westminster indefinitely.