‘Completely unacceptable’: Wales’ Brexit Minister slams UK Gov refusal to show him plan that could ‘upend devolution’

Jeremy Miles AM. Picture: National Assembly

Wales’ Brexit Minister Jeremy Miles has slammed as “completely unacceptable” the UK Government’s refusal to allow him to see their draft Internal Market Bill before it is published next week.

Jeremy Miles said that he had asked to be able to see the draft bill before it was published but his request had been refused.

He added that the Bill had the ability to “upend the devolution settlement”.

“Given planned publication next week, I requested immediate sight of the draft Internal Market Bill on a call with UK ministers earlier,” he said.

“I received no assurances we’d get it pre-publication – completely unacceptable for legislation with the potential to upend devolution settlement.”

The bill, if passed, would allow Westminster to define how the devolved nations would interact with the UK Government post-Brexit and will compel Wales and Scotland to accept whatever new standards on food, environment and animal welfare are agreed in future trade agreements.

Food safety, agriculture and many aspects of the environment are policy areas currently overseen by the governments of Edinburgh and Cardiff.

However, the UK government wants to have the final say on issues previously decided in Brussels and a free hand in post-Brexit negotiations with other countries.

 

‘Problematic’

Earlier this week the Wales Civil Society Forum on Brexit warned that the UK Government’s Internal Market proposals posed a “serious threat” to the autonomy of the governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

If the UK Government presses ahead with them it would “undoubtedly further sour relationships” between the UK Government and devolved nations, they said.

Charles Whitmore, author of the response, said that from a devolved perspective the UK Government’s proposals were “problematic in both process and substance”.

“This is a major constitutional reform that procedurally needs far more than a four-week consultation, in the middle of summer, during parliamentary recess, while many stakeholders are busy tackling Covid-19,” he said.

“This may be a symptom of the UK Government’s self-imposed Brexit deadline, but it is doubtful that the scale of the problem being addressed even requires a legislative response of this nature be rushed through prior to the end of transition.

“It is particularly problematic that a system of mutual recognition is suggested, as this is heavily reliant on effective intergovernmental working and trust. Yet not only has the UK been sorely in need of a reformed system of Intergovernmental Relations for a long time, on this specific issue, the UK Government ceased engaging with the Welsh Government prior to launching the White Paper and did not share it with them beforehand.”

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