Purists punch the air over Great Repeal Bill

David Davis Image copyright HoC
Image caption Brexit Secretary David Davis setting out the Great Repeal Bill in Parliament

After the set-piece drama of the Article 50 letter, the Great Repeal Bill is one for the sovereignty purists.

Now is the moment for all those who joined the Leave side in order to end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice to punch the air.

The bill will also effectively create the battleground for what is likely to be a predictable dispute between the UK and Welsh governments on the control of agriculture.

I fully appreciate that people are more concerned about the future of their job or immigration levels than the state of relations between ministers at Westminster and Cardiff Bay, but nevertheless it will provide much of the background noise of the Brexit process in Wales.

On agriculture here is my idiot's guide. Responsibility for the main principles behind farming subsidies and the money currently rests in Brussels.


But farming is devolved. The Welsh Government administers farm payments and has some control to modify some of the subsidies.

Ministers in Cardiff argue that after Brexit, the main control over farming should by-pass Westminster and come direct to Wales.

But that is not how the UK Government sees it. The EU controlling element over farming will transfer to Westminster after Brexit in a so-called "holding pattern" while a more permanent arrangement is negotiated with the devolved nations.

The "holding pattern" remains in place until there is agreement from everyone.

The key point here is that it will be designed around a UK framework. We will be replacing one EU single market with a UK single market.


The idea is to prevent one part of the UK being able to offer greater subsidies than another.

There have already been rumblings from the Welsh Government but I suspect the level of unhappiness in the long run will depend on how involved ministers in Cardiff feel in the negotiating process.

None of this answers the key question farmers want the answer to, which is what kind of agricultural support will be available outside of the EU.

On a separate note, now that the Article 50 process is underway, there is already a noticeable change of tone from some.

The first minister for one says that while there are dangers from Brexit, the impact could be minimal and there is no reason to think it will be disastrous.

'Whistling in the wind'

We have come used to UK ministers making similar comments but from him it marks a clunking change of gear.

Others are switching focus as well. Plaid are now talking more about the threats to the economy from tariffs rather than continuing with the single market, a prospect that is clearly off the agenda for Theresa May.

The Welsh Government Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford also referred to ministers in Cardiff not being in the business of "whistling in the wind".

Critics will have to work harder now as the negotiations get underway. Wish lists with no reference to the reality of the talks will no longer become apparent.

In other words, the phoney war is over.

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