Scottish, Welsh government heads aim to stop ‘blatant power grab’ after Brexit

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon speaks during the launch of the party's election manifesto. Perth, 30 May. [Robert Perry/ EPA]

The heads of devolved governments in Scotland and Wales will meet on Tuesday (22 August) to try to set a common strategy to protect parliamentary powers which they say are under threat from Britain’s plan to leave the European Union.

Wales and Scotland plan to reject legislation which severs Britain’s legal ties with the European Union, once known as the Great Repeal Bill, when it is brought before the devolved chambers in Cardiff and Edinburgh.

That rebuff would not represent a veto in the Brexit process. However, it would worsen Britain’s constitutional tensions by forcing the UK government to fly in the face of democratic convention and ignore the expressed wish of the devolved bodies, which decide on most domestic policies such as health and education.

UK wants goods, services treated together in Brexit talks

Britain urged the European Union on Monday (21 August) not to separate goods from their services in Brexit talks, further outlining its negotiating stance to try to nudge discussions forward to a second phase on future relations.

“The Scottish government is doing all we can to prevent an extreme Brexit, keep the UK in the single market and protect devolution,” Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said ahead of the meeting with Welsh counterpart Carwyn Jones.

Jones described the Brexit legislation as “quite simply a blatant power grab”.

Last year’s Brexit vote has heightened strains among the United Kingdom’s four constituent nations because England and Wales voted to leave, Scotland and Northern Ireland to remain.

“As it stands, it is inconceivable that we would recommend that the Scottish parliament gives its consent to the legislation,” Sturgeon said in a statement.

Britain confident of making progress in Brexit talks by October

Britain said on Thursday (17 August) it was “confident” talks with the European Union would move towards discussing their future relationship by October, in contrast to warnings from the top EU negotiator that the target is receding.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s …

The Scottish and Welsh governments argue that returning powers now exercised by the EU to the UK government will imply restrictions on the power of Scottish and Welsh chambers.

However, Britain’s Scotland Minister, David Mundell, has said that the repeal will be a “transitional” arrangement, and it will ultimately result in a boost in devolved parliamentary power.

“We have said repeatedly that we are willing to talk constructively with the UK government on future arrangements. But this has to be on the basis of agreement and partnership, not imposition,” Sturgeon said.

In July, a report from a committee of lawmakers in Britain’s House of Lords said Brexit was a fundamental challenge to the future of the UK, and called on the government to set aside party politics and adjust its Brexit approach.

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