Wales politics

Labour forms taskforce on post-Brexit devolution

Kezia Dugdale, Carwyn Jones and Gordon Brown at constitutional convention meeting Image copyright Wales Governance Centre
Image caption Kezia Dugdale, Carwyn Jones and Gordon Brown join forces to consider the UK's future

Leading Labour Party politicians have called for new policies on devolution to save the UK after Brexit.

First Minister Carwyn Jones was hosting the first meeting of a devolution taskforce with Gordon Brown and Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale.

It comes as Theresa May formally starts Brexit proceedings.

Mr Jones has claimed the UK could break up if she refused to listen to the concerns of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland about leaving the EU.

At the launch in Cardiff, former Prime Minister Mr Brown said there was a need to "rethink the British constitution" giving more power to the nations and regions of the UK.

Meeting as the Article 50 process was being triggered, he said it was "a very difficult day".

Mr Jones said his biggest fear was that Brexit would lead to a rise in English nationalism.

The Labour gathering on Wednesday formed the basis of a constitutional convention to look at how political power will be exercised across the UK following Brexit.

Mr Jones has long called for a wide-ranging consultation on the constitution as a way to keep the UK together.

On Tuesday the Scottish Parliament voted for permission to hold a second independence referendum.

Labour hopes that its process, which is aimed to help the party develop policies on devolution, will lead to an alternative vision that sways voters from backing the SNP.

'Power grab'

The party said it would look at options for a new federal relationship between the UK's nations and regions.

The current constitutional arrangements are "no longer fit for purpose", Labour said.

It added that it would oppose a "Whitehall power grab" if powers returned from Brussels are retained in London, instead of going to the devolved administrations in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast.

Labour will also look at handing more powers to the English regions and at reforms in Westminster, including turning the House of Lords into an elected Senate.

Labour added: "The Brexit vote was in part an angry revolt of Britain's left-behind regions against the country's financial, cultural and political elites.

"Underlying this are deep-seated economic inequalities that drive divisions in the UK."

A Welsh Conservative spokesman said it was "very disappointing to hear Carwyn Jones, Gordon Brown and Kezia Dugdale talking down the union and courting language normally used by nationalists".

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