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UK ministers slammed for ‘unacceptable’ lack of engagement with Welsh Government

04 May 2022 4 minute read
Vaughan Gething

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething has slammed UK ministers for being ‘disrespectful’ to the Welsh Government and says Westminster’s lack of engagement with the UK’s devolved governments in terms of decision making is ‘completely unacceptable’.

In a statement to the Senedd responding to last week’s decision to delay border checks on goods imported from the European Union for a fourth time, Mr Gething revealed he, and the relevant ministers from the other devolved governments were called to a meeting which was called at the last minute and lasted ‘no more than half an hour’ to be told the further introduction of  controls would be suspended until the end of next year.

Mr Gething said: “I’m disappointed to say this is something that has not been discussed beforehand at Ministerial level with Devolved Governments.

“I have made clear to UK Ministers that the Welsh Government would need time to consider the full implications of the UK Government’s decision and its impact for Wales.

“Specifically, we need to understand the UK Government’s detailed proposals on how to treat goods from the island of Ireland. Just as importantly, we need to work together on how to ensure biosecurity. We know the dreadful consequences of an outbreak of animal or plant disease.

“In addition, the Welsh Government needs urgent sight of draft legislation the UK Government plan to bring forward, which must come into force before 30 June. This is key to determining whether we will need to introduce our own legislation for Wales. There is now very little time left in order to do so. I call on the UK Government to work with us urgently to end this uncertainly.

“This is essential for the Welsh Government and this Senedd to discharge our responsibilities, in line with our established procedures.”

Failure

Checks on imports from the EU should originally have been introduced in January 2021 when the Brexit transition period came to an end, but the failure of the UK government to prepare border inspection posts meant they were not implemented at that time and have been delayed three times in the subsequent 28 months.

A total of 30 BCPs are set to be built across the UK to enable physical checks to be carried out on certain goods entering the UK from the EU as required under the Brexit trade deal.

Mr Gething added”…the last few months has been an incredibly frustrating period for the Welsh Government, for our ports and for Welsh businesses.

“I’m afraid to say that whilst we’ve been planning for the introduction of Border Controls we’ve been hampered throughout due to a vacuum of information.

“There have been repeated postponements of joint meetings with the UK Government and the other Devolved Governments in this area, while UK Ministers have failed to respond to a series of letters I have sent in recent months.

“I remind Members that the Welsh Government inherited the UK Government’s policy commitment to develop inland Border Control Posts where ports could not accommodate them; and we were getting on with the job of being ready by 1 July.

“That has taken up hundreds of hours of Civil Servants time and a great deal of Ministerial time. We have spent £6m of public money on this programme of work so far.

“The UK Government’s engagement with the Devolved Governments in terms of decision making has been completely unacceptable. It is wholly at odds with the ways of working envisaged in the Inter-Governmental Relations Review and the Common Frameworks.”

“…this is, frankly, disrespectful to a Devolved Government and to this Senedd that holds us to account.

“Moving forward I want to work collaboratively with the UK Government to ensure we have the right system in place for importing goods which is safe, secure and efficient. That requires a genuine change in attitude and engagement.

“If a safe, secure and efficient import system can be achieved through harnessing innovative new technologies to streamline processes and reduce frictions, then this is something the Welsh Government can support.

“But equally we will want to be assured that our long term strategic responsibilities to protect the health of people, animals and plants in this country are given sufficient weight.”

Chilled meats

The controls due in July which have been abandoned included prohibitions and restrictions on the import of chilled meats from the EU, safety and security declarations, and changes to sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks on plant and animal products.

Goods moving from the UK will continue to be subject to checks in the EU despite the Government deciding not to introduce the controls in Britain.

Controls which have already been introduced in the UK will also remain in place.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
5 months ago

It must be very frustrating to be ignored by those you wish to communicate with on such important matters. Mr Gething is right to be concerned about threats to the safety of the flora and fauna of Wales presented by unregulated imports through Caergybi and the southwestern ports. The senseless chaos that is post Brexit UK must make the life of responsible ministers like Mr Gething very difficult indeed…

Gareth
Gareth
5 months ago

Probably the reason the UK gov does not interact with devolved govs is, they do not know what they are doing and are clueless. It is now 6 years since the brexit vote, yet they have no customs and border infrastructure, 30 mile queues at ports, lack of vets to deal with food and live imports/exports of animals, when the ROI took weeks to implement changes. They concentrate on superficial things like the queens celebrations, and trying to cover up all the lies they say, while the police issue fines to them and conduct raids linked to PPE fraud. How… Read more »

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
5 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

The RoI began planning years ago and they didn’t takes just weeks. They designed, ordered, had built and delivered the Superferries called Brexitbusters. They built new port facilities, dredged a whole new seaway into Dublin and began operations 4 years ago January with MV Celine.

Gareth
Gareth
5 months ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

The plans of the ROI were drawn up as soon as the vote was known, implemented within weeks of the vote, but took years to finalise, but make no mistake, they acted promptly unlike the UK.

Philip Jones
Philip Jones
5 months ago

Vaughan Gethin is right to be concerned BUT does he think things would improve under a Starmer government? Always a colony until we are free.

Llinos
Llinos
4 months ago
Reply to  Philip Jones

Whataboutery about Starmer. But yes we need full independence from the foreign Westminster government

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
5 months ago

On the 10th of March we didn’t even have a site for the Fishguard BCP and the Parc Gybi design contract had just been issued. One of the DEFRA nutters in Westminster, maybe Useless Eustice himself, said that the UK government would build these things, a flat out lie as Gething confirms, but also that local authorities would pay for the staffing and running costs. I have no idea if that is right, he is after all a total moron, but the BCP for the port on Anglesey will be in Gwynedd and the BCP for Pembrokeshire will be in… Read more »

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
5 months ago

This Conservative Government keeps stating in the media how they are in regular contact with the Welsh Government when it’s a total lie. Look at the way they bypassed Wales when human trafficker Priti Patel transported over 300+ refugees to Pembrokeshire without even consulting the Welsh Government or Pembrokeshire Council but expected ratepayers to pick up the Tory tab. See our border or sovereignty is relevant to Whitehall. We Welsh have no rights as Welsh people. Rights only apply to us if we follow the Act of Union Wales 1535-1543 guidelines that say if want to function in life must… Read more »

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
4 months ago

We all know the answer to this seemingly perpetual nonsense – Independence

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
4 months ago

This isn’t just a crap UK Government, like the rest of them, this is an amateur, jingoistic, tory UK Government and I’m being extremely restrained with that description. If the Tories had any awareness they’d realise they are speeding up the inevitable break of the UK, but they don’t. They’re too ignorant and arrogant to understand what they are doing 🙄😒

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