Damning report

Devolved nations ‘sidelined’ in Brexit talks says Cherry

Joanna Cherry

Joanna Cherry: ‘need for proper consultation’ (pic: Terry Murden)

The UK government has been accused of sidelining the devolved governments in the negotiations with the EU over Brexit.

A cross-party committee of MPs has recommended Tory ministers at Westminster engage with the other legislatures.

In a new report today, the Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union, which has a majority of Tory MPs, notes that there has been just one meeting of the joint ministerial committee (EU Negotiations) since the UK left the EU on 31 January.

That was on the 21 May – and the meeting before that was on 28 January.

“These simple facts illustrate plainly that the JMC (EN) is not being used as a serious forum by the UK government and that the devolved administrations have had no genuine opportunity to input to the overall strategy of the talks,” says the report.

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SNP MP Joanna Cherry, who is a member of the committee, called for the Prime Minister to agree an extension to the transition period to ensure the devolved nations are “properly consulted” and to avoid a devastating bad-deal or no-deal outcome.

Last week the Scottish and Welsh Governments pulled out of a meeting with the UK Government.

In a joint statement they 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.”

Scottish Government analysis claims that ending the transition period in December could remove £3 billion from the Scottish economy in just two years.

The CBI has warned a no deal would block an economic recovery in the UK, and the IMF has warned it could wipe a further 3.5% off UK GDP.

Polls show the majority of people support an extension to the transition period. A survey by Focaldata found eighty-three per cent (83%) of people in Scotland and seventy-seven per cent (77%) across Britain say the UK government should agree to an extension.

Ms Cherry said: “The Tory government must urgently give the devolved governments meaningful involvement in the UK’s Brexit negotiations with the EU – its conduct to date has been disgraceful.

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“Scotland’s interests have been routinely dismissed and brushed aside by Tory ministers, who have made no serious attempt to engage with the devolved nations or address our concerns – and are now dragging the UK towards a devastating bad-deal or no-deal Brexit.

“It comes to something when even Tory MPs accept that the UK Government’s conduct is damaging to the devolved settlement and the union.

“Boris Johnson must pause his failing talks, agree a two-year extension to the transition period, and use it as an opportunity to properly engage with the devolved nations – instead of completely ignoring our wishes.”

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