Wales and Scotland boycott talks with no 10 after Brexit views ignored

Mark Drakeford. Picture by CPMR – Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CC BY-SA 2.0) Nicola Sturgeon picture by Arctic Circle (CC BY 2.0).

The Welsh and Scottish Governments decided to boycott a ministerial video conference with the UK Government after a Brexit extension was refused before they had a chance to discuss it.

First Minister Mark Drakeford and Nicola Sturgeon had sent a letter to No 10 this afternoon arguing that the Covid-19 pandemic meant that the transition period should be extended. But it was announced minutes after that the UK would not be extending its transition period with the EU.

Scottish and Welsh Brexit ministers Michael Russell and Jeremy Miles put out a joint statement after Michael Gove refused a Brexit extension without their input.

They said they would not take part in a call with Paymaster General Penny Mourdant on Friday night in preparation for UK-EU meeting on Monday.

The statement said: “We cannot accept a way of working in which the views of the devolved governments are simply dismissed before we have had a chance to discuss them. In reality, the meetings we have had have simply been an opportunity for the UK Government to inform us of their views, not to listen or respond to ours.

“We will be writing to Michael Gove to seek a complete re-boot of these talks and meanwhile we want the EU 27 to know that the position being taken by the UK Government with regard to an extension of the transition period runs counter to the views of our governments and, in our opinion, risks doing serious damage to the people of our countries.

“Failing to request an extension at this time is a particularly reckless act given the damage coronavirus is doing to the economy and the impact on jobs.”

Jeremy Miles later tweeted: “The Welsh Government has legitimate interests in the negotiations, on behalf of the people of Wales. They need to be taken seriously and we are not prepared simply to go through the motions.”

 

‘Reckless’

Earlier today the First Ministers of Wales and Scotland had written a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking that he extends the Brexit transition period beyond the end of the year.

In the letter, Mark Drakeford and Nicola Sturgeon say that due to the Covid-19 crisis meant that the end of the year is the “worst possible time to end the transition period”.

They said that the Withdrawal Agreement only allows an extension if it is agreed before the end of June.

“At the time the Withdrawal Agreement was signed no one could have imagined the enormous economic dislocation which Covid-19 has caused – in Wales, Scotland, the whole of the UK, the Eu and across the world.

“While we hope that the second half of this year will see the beginnings of a recovery, we believe that exiting the transition period at the end of the year would be extraordinarily reckless.”

‘Adjust’

However just as the letter was announced the UK Government “formally confirmed” to the EU that it would not extend the Brexit transition period, as it unveiled its post-exit border plans.

“The moment for an extension has now passed,” Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said.

The government also confirmed that it has scrapped plans to immediately introduce full import controls on EU goods in the new year.

Mr Gove said Britain would now phase in changes so businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic can have the “time to adjust”.

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