Wales politics

Brexit to reflect interests of all UK, says David Davis

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Media captionBrexit negotiation has to be done under a "single banner", says David Davis

The interests of Wales will be reflected and protected in the UK's negotiations to leave the European Union, the Brexit secretary has said.

David Davis gave the pledge as a bill enabling the UK government to trigger the Article 50 process was published.

It follows a Supreme Court ruling that legislation by MPs was necessary.

The judges said the assembly did not legally need to be consulted, but Mr Davis said the Welsh Government would be through joint meetings of ministers.

He said the bill would be "straightforward", but it is expected to face amendments from MPs and peers, with some saying they will oppose it outright.

Four MPs - including Swansea West Labour MP Geraint Davies - have tabled an amendment to the bill which effectively calls on members to reject it.

The UK government was forced to draw up the legislation after losing an appeal at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, when judges ruled that Parliament must give permission to start the Brexit process.

But they also said ministers were not "legally compelled" to consult the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which "do not have a veto".

The bill, published on Thursday, proposes that: "The Prime Minister may notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom's intention to withdraw from the EU."

Explanatory notes from the UK government said the bill "does not contain any provision which gives rise to the need for a legislative consent motion in the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales or the Northern Ireland Assembly".

Image caption Theresa May was last in Cardiff in July, when she met First Minister Carwyn Jones

However, Mr Davis told MPs on Thursday that views from the three nations would be taken into consideration.

"The formal role is already in place," he said referring to the joint ministerial committee (JMC).

"We've had three meetings so far - we've got another meeting on Monday in Cardiff and another one in early February.

"We are taking formally the papers submitted by the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government, and we will take them on board.

However, he added: "This is a sophisticated and complex negotiation - it'll be difficult to do, it's got to be done under a single banner.

"But it'll be done in a way that reflects the interests and protects the interests of all parts of the United Kingdom."

On Wednesday, Theresa May told MPs during Prime Minister's Questions that should would attend the next meeting of the JMC.

She had been criticised for not attending a gathering of the British-Irish Council near Cardiff in November.

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Media captionAlun Cairns says the UK will seek to maintain free trade with the EU

Meanwhile Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns urged farmers to "look to new markets and new opportunities" at a meeting at the Royal Welsh showground in Builth Wells, Powys.

He said the UK government would still seek to maintain free trade with the EU in the same way that countries like Canada and Mexico did.

John Davies, deputy president of NFU Cymru, said it was extremely disappointing to hear that the UK was intending to leave the single market.

"We need to ensure that we're not sacrificed at the table of free trade," he said.

Wales Office minsters will meet leaders from other sectors of the economy in the coming weeks.

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