Published On: Wed, Feb 21st, 2018

BREXIT SELLOUT: May surrenders to SNP demands as Scotland and Wales snatch EU powers

Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington will today hold face-to-face talks with Nicola Sturgeon’s Brexit Minister Mike Russell amid the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill stand-off.

The UK Government is now prepared to transfer the “vast majority” of powers over devolved areas to Holyrood after Brexit, while retaining control over just a few – until joint frameworks have been put in place.

A long-running dispute centres on Clause 11 of the Bill, which at present would transfer all powers to Westminster on leaving the bloc, before being devolved.

But Mr Russell is expected to tell both Mr Lidington and Brexit Secretary David Davis that the plans do not go far enough to allay SNP concerns of a”power grab”.

His administration want all powers over devolved areas to come straight to Holyrood.

Only then will they talk about common frameworks to protect the internal UK market.

They and Welsh minsters say they cannot recommend legislative consent without the addition of proposed changes threatening a constitutional crisis.

Speaking ahead of the London meeting Mr Lidington, who is the Prime Minister de facto deputy, said: “The proposal that we have put on the table is a considerable offer that I hope the devolved administrations will engage with constructively.

“We have worked closely with the devolved administrations to find a way forward that respects the role of the devolved governments and ensures we are able to protect our vital UK internal market, worth around four times as much to Scotland as the EU’s.

“All sides agree certain areas will require common frameworks – and it’s therefore imperative that we don’t make life more difficult for businesses and families across the UK as we manage the process of bringing new powers back from the EU.

“We have demonstrated a willingness to listen and adapt our approach in order to find an agreed way forward, and we encourage others to do likewise so we can make good progress.”

But Mr Russell said the Scottish Government wanted “further progress on safeguarding devolution” and will not change its position unless the Bill stipulates devolved powers can only be changed with Holyrood’s agreement.

He stressed that frameworks must be agreed, not imposed.

Mr Russell said: “We are not opposed to UK-wide frameworks, when they are in Scotland’s interest, but devolved powers can only be changed with the agreement of the Scottish Parliament.

“Failing that commitment from the UK Government, we will be unable to recommend consent to this legislation.”

He said he would also emphasise the importance of the customs union and single market to Scotland, adding: “We recently published analysis that clearly sets out the damaging impact a hard Brexit will have on jobs, investment and the economy in Scotland – a loss equivalent to £2,300 per year for each person in Scotland.

“This is an economic disaster we must avoid.” 

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