Bremain in Spain Comments on Devolved Parliaments and Brexit
The Welsh government, headed by Carwyn Howell Jones who will stand down in autumn, has agreed to sign a deal with UK government ministers over the sharing of EU powers if Brexit goes ahead. The Welsh Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford, said that UK government concessions are enough to protect the Welsh Assembly’s powers if Britain leaves the EU.
In an open letter to prime minister, Theresa May, the Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said she would continue to press the prime minister to make further concessions on how the devolved and central UK governments would share powers re Brexit. Key issues include farm subsidies, fishing quotas, GM crop policies, organ transplant rules and food labelling.
Sturgeon said the new UK government offer - with Westminster’s powers in these areas lapsing by 2026 - were unacceptable and concluded that it "gave too much power to UK ministers".
Both the UK and Scottish governments are awaiting a UK Supreme Court ruling on the legality of the devolved administrations passing emergency Brexit bills. As the powers currently rest with the EU, there is some debate if a devolved body can legislate on them. In the event of an agreement between governments, the legal question is unlikely to be relevant to the 153 policy areas currently controlled by the EU, which may or may not be devolved.
Bremain in Spain Chair, Sue Wilson, comments: "The UK and Welsh governments are forgetting that nobody has a bowl of fortune cookies to consult about Brexit. Leaving the EU would be the largest, most significant constitutional shake-up in the last century and could have a harmful effect on a hard-fought-for devolution settlement.
"The SNP-led Scottish government is holding the government’s feet to the fire. It is rightly disrupting the notion that Brexit would be plain sailing or that the UK government could have all the answers before an EU deal is even announced."
She continues: "There is no loss of irony in the UK government championing Brexit but proposing to keep the current batch of EU powers to itself for another seven years. For spectators at home, this is just another example of why there must be a People’s Vote.
"How the UK government expects the Scottish government to place its constitutional future on wishful thinking is fanciful. Scotland voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, and its voice should be respected."
She concludes: "What’s regrettable is the absence of clear foresight. Unless the Welsh government knows something the rest of us don’t, it is prone to the same upset, confusion and dismay that Brexit would inevitably bring. Nicola Sturgeon is right to demand accountability and precision."
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