Wales politics

Wales needs bigger stake in Brexit, says Welsh Tory leader

Andrew RT Davies
Image caption Andrew RT Davies says better ways of communicating within the UK are needed during Brexit

UK ministers should do more to ensure people in Wales have a "bigger stake" in the Brexit process, Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies has said.

Writing on the Brexit Central website, he called for an urgent review of the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) of leaders from across the UK.

First Minister Carwyn Jones is amongst those to have expressed severe frustration with the JMC process.

Mr Davies said better ways were needed "to engage as a United Kingdom".

Since last year's referendum vote to leave the European Union, the JMC has been used as a way for ministers from the devolved administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to discuss their views with their UK government counterparts.

Last October the JMC was convened for the first time since 2014, with Prime Minister Theresa May saying she wanted it to be "the start of a new grown-up relationship between the devolved administrations and the UK government".

On Thursday, Mr Davies said the views of the devolved administrations needed to be listened to, saying: "This is not the 1950s.

"We need to establish better ways to engage as a United Kingdom, the need for which will soon become clear once additional powers are returned to the UK from Brussels."

Earlier in June, Mr Jones called for the JMC to be replaced by a more powerful UK Council of Ministers to settle disputes as part of a plan to "reinvent and strengthen" the UK post-Brexit.

Image caption Carwyn Jones arriving in Downing Street for last October's JMC meeting

Mr Davies also warned that the vote to leave the EU was, partly, due to voters feeling distant from Brussels.

He said change was needed so that the UK government was not seen in the same way.

"With the very real prospect of new UK-wide frameworks for farming, regeneration and research, it is vital that we have the structures in place to ensure that people in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have a bigger stake in the process," the Welsh Conservative leader said.

"That means a better voice for the devolved nations."

The UK government's Cabinet Office, which is responsible for how the JMC works, has been asked to comment.

Image caption Alun Cairns says comparing Wales and Northern Ireland funding is not simple

Mr Davies's intervention comes at a time when he is at odds with UK ministers over any Tory-DUP deal in Westminster.

On Wednesday he said: "Any potential incentives considered for one nation in securing that majority must also be considered for Wales."

But Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns, the man who represents Wales at the cabinet table, told BBC Wales Mr Davies's calls were "simplistic".

Speaking on BBC TV's The Wales Report, he said: "Wales now gets £120 for every £100 spent in England. We've also introduced the funding floor.

"These issues don't exist in Northern Ireland as they are. And, certainly, the devolution settlement and the responsibilities are very difficult as well.

"So it's far too easy to try to make simplistic comparison when it's much more complicated than that."

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