Tories complain about Welsh Gov legal challenge to Westminster ‘power grab’
The Tories have complained about a legal challenge by the Welsh Government to a Westminster “power grab”.
The Welsh Conservatives were responding to the Court of Appeal granting the right to appeal against the Internal Market Act, which took away powers over funding from the Senedd and centralised them in London.
Shadow Minister for the Constitution Darren Millar has defended the Act, which he says enables Wales to “continue trading seamlessly” with the rest of the UK.
He said he was “surprised” that the Welsh Government was taking legal action, instead of focusing on “economic recovery”.
Back in April, the Welsh Government had been refused permission for a High Court legal challenge against the UK Government.
Then Welsh Counsel General Jeremy Miles had said at the time that they would not tolerate the UK Government’s “undemocratic assault” on devolution.
But the court refused permission, saying that it was “premature” to contest any potential power grab before such circumstances arose.
Yesterday, however, the new Counsel General Mick Antoniw confirmed that the Court of Appeal had granted permission to appeal the Divisional Court’s decision.
He said that they noted that “there are compelling reasons for this appeal to be heard by the Court of Appeal and that the case raises important issues of principle going to the constitutional relationship between the Senedd and the Parliament of the UK”.
Darren Millar MS said: “The Welsh public will be very surprised that the Labour-run Welsh Government is focusing its efforts on yet more legal action and its own power base rather than Wales’ economic recovery, particularly given the legal challenge is against an Act that allows Welsh businesses to continue trading seamlessly with Wales’ most important market – the rest of the UK.
“The bill ensures there are no barriers to internal trade and will protect Welsh jobs, businesses and livelihoods, whilst it also enjoyed cross-party support in both the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
“The Welsh Parliament now has more powers than it did at any time when the UK was part of the EU, and it’s about time the Welsh Labour Government focused its energies on the day-job and used the powers they have available to rebuild the Welsh economy and protect people’s livelihoods.”
Counsel General Mick Antoniw said: “I am committed to keeping Members of the Senedd updated about the steps the Welsh Government is taking to protect the Senedd from the attack on its competence made by the UK Internal Market Act 2020.
“As Members are aware, the Welsh Government issued formal proceedings seeking permission for a judicial review in January 2021, recognising the difficulties faced by the Senedd because of the uncertainty that this Act leaves in terms of the Senedd’s ability to legislate (see Written Statement, 19 January 2021).
“The Welsh Government’s application for permission was refused by the Divisional Court, on the ground that it was premature. The Court did not form a view on the substance of the claim. An appeal was subsequently submitted.
“We expect a hearing will be listed in due course. I will continue to keep Members updated about progress.”