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Minister warns internal market legislation will ‘accelerate the break-up of the Union’

20 Aug 2020 2 minute read
Jeremy Miles AM. Picture: National Assembly

Welsh Brexit minister Jeremy Miles has warned the UK Government that plans to pass legislation to impose a new UK internal market after the end of the Brexit transition period will “accelerate the break-up of the Union” and says the proposals would not secure consent from the Welsh Parliament.

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.

The Financial Times reports the Mr Miles accused the Westminster government of a “direct attack on the current mode of devolution” and said that the legislation would “emasculate the current rights of the devolved institutions to implement changes to the regulatory environment”.

“The Welsh government is concerned that the long-term survival of the United Kingdom is under great strain and that the approach taken in the white paper will exacerbate those tensions in a way which, if not addressed, will accelerate the break-up of the Union,” said Mr Miles.

Last week Scottish constitution secretary Mike Russell accused the UK government of an “outrageous power grab” and said his government was considering legal action to challenge the plans, which he called a “major weakening of devolution”.

In her response to the proposed legislation two weeks ago Liz Saville Roberts MP, Group Leader of Plaid Cymru in the House of Commons, said: “It is as if the Westminster Government cannot even hide its contempt for devolution.

“This is a power grab, plain and simple. From nakedly taking back competencies already held in Wales, to the fact that this legislation was not proposed jointly with the devolved administrations, the Westminster Government is chipping away at two decades of devolution.

“People will not fall for the Westminster double-speak of adding to devolution, these changes will only diminish Wales’s ability to carve its own path.”

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