Scotland politics

Scottish and Welsh governments to propose Brexit bill changes

Carwyn Jones and Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Jones and Ms Sturgeon say their governments are working together to ensure devolution is not damaged by Brexit

The Scottish and Welsh governments are to put forward amendments to the UK government's Brexit legislation.

First ministers Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones met in Edinburgh in the latest move to coordinate opposition to the EU Withdrawal Bill.

They fear the Westminster government is planning to use the bill to launch a "power grab" of devolved powers.

The two governments said they would work together on amendments "to provide a constructive way forward".

The UK government insists there are no plans for a power grab, and says Brexit will actually see more powers devolved to both nations.

The talks are the latest in a series held between senior Scottish and Welsh government figures in recent weeks as the two administrations join forces in an attempt to secure a greater say.

The two governments also recently raised a formal objection to Theresa May's £1bn deal with the Democratic Unionists to keep the Tories in power.

Much of their focus has been on the EU Withdrawal Bill, which aims to ensure that EU laws still apply in the UK immediately after Brexit.

Ms Sturgeon and Mr Jones are concerned the bill will return powers in devolved policy areas, such as fishing and agriculture, to Westminster rather than Edinburgh or Cardiff.

The UK government says that this is merely a "transitional arrangement" that will allow for the further onward devolution of powers.

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Media captionCarwyn Jones said the talks were not about blocking Brexit

Ahead of Tuesday's talks Mr Jones told the BBC that the UK government could not be trusted on Brexit after it cancelled a planned upgrade of the railways for Swansea.

In a joint statement after the meeting, the Scottish and Welsh first ministers said they could not recommend their respective parliaments give consent to the Brexit bill as it currently stands.

However, they said they would work together on "potential amendments which would address our concerns".

The statement read: "The UK government's EU (Withdrawal) Bill is an unashamed move to centralise decision-making power in Westminster, cutting directly across current devolved powers and responsibilities.

"We believe the bill must not be allowed to progress in its current form.

"To provide a constructive way forward, the Scottish and Welsh governments are now working to agree potential amendments to the bill which would address our concerns. We are also coordinating our advice to the Parliament and Assembly to ensure they fully understand our concerns and our alternative proposals.

"It will now be for the UK government to respond positively to our suggested amendments to move negotiations forward, and ensure there is a functioning legal system on withdrawal from the EU, and agreed UK structures, - where these are required - that reflect the views and interests of all parts of the UK, and respect devolved powers and responsibilities."

'Positive and productive'

The Westminster government maintains that the UK's exit from the EU will benefit devolved administrations, with Scottish Secretary David Mundell referring to it as a "powers bonanza" for them.

Talks earlier in the month between First Secretary of State Damian Green and Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney over the repatriation of powers ended in stalemate, although a further summit is planned.

A UK government spokesman said: "Not a single decision currently taken by the Scottish or Welsh governments will be taken away under this Bill.

"Instead, the bill is about creating certainty and continuity for people and businesses across the UK, and ensuring that we don't create new barriers to doing business.

"It is our expectation that the outcome of this process will provide greater decision-making power for each devolved administration and we are committed to positive and productive discussions going forward."