Corbyn contradicts Welsh Labour by condemning Westminster ‘power grab’

Picture: Chatham House (CC BY 2.0)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has branded unacceptable the UK’s intention to intercept powers in devolved areas returning from the EU – after the Welsh Government backed the deal.

The Welsh Government were accused by opposition parties of capitulating after reaching a deal with the UK Government over the matter two weeks ago.

In Scotland, however, Labour, Lib Dems and Greens are backing the SNP’s decision to reject the EU withdrawal deal.

“I’m very happy that the Scottish Labour party will be voting against [the bill] because frankly there is a power grab going on by Whitehall on the EU withdrawal,” Corbyn said.

“What they’re doing is taking powers from Brussels that ought to go to Scotland, Wales and the regions and instead pooling them in Whitehall. That is unacceptable to us.

“As far as I am concerned there should be the maximum devolution from EU withdrawal for Scotland and Wales.”

Welsh Labour had come to an agreement with Westminster two weeks ago, negotiated by Wales’ Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford.

He said it was a deal “we can work with which has required compromises”.

‘Reject’

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said that Corbyn had left Welsh Labour in a “ludicrous position”.

“They are the only branch of their own party that supports Withdrawal Bill,” she said. “In the only place where Labour is in government and can stop this power grab, they have chosen to endorse it. And for what? Wales will not benefit at all from this deal.

“People in Wales voted for devolution and now Labour in Wales is working with the Tories to undermine it. It is embarrassing and absurd in equal measure that Labour in Wales still refuses to recognise the damage the Withdrawal Bill will do to our nation.

“Now that their London Leader has said that it is right to reject the Westminster power grab, the Labour Welsh Government must urgently reconsider their position.

“The Labour government has a choice this Tuesday when we will vote to give the Withdrawal Bill our consent or not.

“Work with the Tories and UKIP to take powers away from the National Assembly for Wales or back Plaid Cymru’s attempts to stop this Westminster power grab in its tracks. Whose side is the government on?”

Consent

The deal offered by Westminster came with a promise that the powers would be held for no more than seven years and that the devolved legislatures will need to give their consent to any changes.

It was later revealed that Westminster would not require consent and could not ensure that future governments returned the powers.

The UK Government’s original intention was that EU laws in devolved areas would be transferred directly to Westminster as part of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

However, the Welsh and Scottish Governments branded the move a “naked power grab” of devolved powers.

At the beginning of the year, the UK Government modified its offer so that some of the powers returned instead to the devolved administrations.

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