Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh FM meet to prevent "blatant power grab by Whitehall" after Brexit

The first ministers of Scotland and Wales are meeting in Edinburgh today to discuss shared aim of preventing EU powers over devolved areas being reverted to Westminster

NICOLA STURGEON is today meeting with her Welsh counterpart, Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones, in Edinburgh to discuss their shared concerns that the UK Government’s EU (Withdrawal) Bill would constitute a “power grab” by Westminster, and to formulate a common strategy of opposition.

The Scottish and Welsh governments have both issued previous statements vehemently opposing any such move by Westminster.

Ahead of the meeting, Carwyn Jones described the Welsh Government’s position “as clear and unequivocal -  the Withdrawal Bill flies in the face of devolution and we cannot accept it in its current form”.

He went on: “It is quite simply a blatant power grab from Whitehall which is not in the interest of people in Wales and the other devolved administrations.

“It [the EU Withdrawal Bill] is quite simply a blatant power grab from Whitehall which is not in the interest of people in Wales and the other devolved administrations.” Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones

“We have been equally clear that we are prepared to come to the table, to work constructively with the UK Government to try and reach agreement on future arrangements.

“Based on their behaviour over the last few months, we have seen no real desire to take up this invitation and unless we see a completely different approach we will not be recommending the Assembly gives its consent to this Bill.”

Also speaking ahead of the meeting, Sturgeon said: “Both during and after the EU referendum, new powers were promised to Holyrood but instead the UK Government is planning to impose new restrictions on the Scottish Parliament.

“The UK Government’s EU (Withdrawal) Bill returns powers, even in devolved policy areas, solely to Westminster. Both the Scottish and the Welsh governments have been clear that this power grab cannot be allowed to take place.”

“Both during and after the EU referendum, new powers were promised to Holyrood but instead the UK Government is planning to impose new restrictions on the Scottish Parliament.” Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Like Jones, Sturgeon also emphasised that the Scottish Government was willing to talk constructively with the UK Government, but that “this has to be on the basis of agreement and partnership not imposition”.

Speaking of the joint effort between his administration and that of Sturgeon, Jones continued: “By speaking with one voice, we will make it clear that the UK Government cannot simply impose its will on the other constituent parts of the UK.”

In July, the two first ministers issued a joint statement saying they could recommend that legislative consent could be given to the Brexit repeal bill in its current form, which they described as “an attack on the founding principles of devolution” which could destabilise their national economies.

“We have been very clear that the devolved administrations will lose none of the decision making powers they currently exercise.” UK Government spokesperson

If Wales and Scotland reject the UK Government’s Brexit legislation, it would not veto the process, but could enflame constitutional tensions within the UK by forcing Westminster to ignore the democratic wishes of its devolved governments.

A UK Government spokesperson quoted today by ITV News responded to the claims and criticisms of both first ministers by saying: “We have been very clear that the devolved administrations will lose none of the decision making powers they currently exercise.

“Indeed, it is our expectation they will gain significant additional decision making powers as we leave the EU.”

This echoes earlier statements from the UK Government, which have been consistent in their denial of concerns from the UK’s devolved governments. In July, Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell described a “powers bonanza” for the Scottish Parliament post-Brexit, saying: “I'm happy to be held to account for that statement once the process has been delivered.”

“I'm happy to be held to account for that statement once the process has been delivered.” Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell

The meeting between the first ministers is the latest and most high-profile collaboration between the Welsh and Scottish governments on the subject of Brexit.

It follows a meeting on 17 August between Scottish Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham and her Welsh counterpart Lesley Griffiths, with Cunningham arguing that a UK-wide framework for green targets could hold Scotland back, and another three weeks prior to that between Scottish Brexit minister Mike Russell and Welsh Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford.

Picture courtesy of the First Minister of Scotland

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