Scotland and Wales urged to work with UK on Withdrawal Bill

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Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington has said the UK Government and devolved administrations must “work together to find a way forward” on key Brexit legislation.

Mr Lidington will hold talks with Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney in Edinburgh and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones in Cardiff on Thursday.

The devolved administrations have refused to recommend granting consent for the EU Withdrawal Bill, which transposes EU law to UK law, until changes are made to the controversial clause 11 to protect devolution.

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Brexit Minister Mike Russell (Jane Barlow/PA)
Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Brexit Minister Mike Russell (Jane Barlow/PA)

The Scottish and Welsh administrations characterise clause 11 as a “power grab” as it transfers devolved EU powers to Westminster in the first instance, but Conservatives claim it is needed to set up UK-wide frameworks before further devolution.

Ahead of the visits, Mr Lidington said: “I am very much looking forward to visiting Scotland and Wales.

“The UK Government is committed to building a Britain where our strong economy benefits all parts of the UK.”

He added: “I am also looking forward to continuing my discussions with Carwyn Jones and John Swinney on how we can make progress with the EU Withdrawal Bill in our face-to-face talks today. We need to work together to find an agreed way forward.”

His comments come after Scotland’s Brexit Minister Michael Russell told MSPs Mr Lidington must put forward an amendment to clause 11 for any progress to be made.

Mr Russell said: “On the EU Withdrawal Bill, we are becoming increasingly exasperated by the UK Government’s approach.

“This is not a disagreement between the Scottish and UK governments. It is now agreed unanimously, with support across Parliament, that the Bill is incompatible with devolution and will allow Westminster to take control of devolved areas.

“The Scottish and Welsh governments’ joint amendments to the Bill to protect devolution were rejected by UK ministers, who then failed to honour their commitment for amendments of their own. The UK Government must make changes to address these concerns.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell, who will take part in the Scottish talks along with Mr Russell, said: “We want to agree an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill which we can then bring forward in the Lords.”

In addition to the Brexit meetings, Mr Lidington will co-host a meeting of the expert panel set up by Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns to advise on arrangements for leaving the EU.

The Cabinet Office Minister will also hold round table discussions with business leaders in both Cardiff and Edinburgh.

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