Wales politics

Brexit: Pledge to make repeal bill 'acceptable'

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Media captionCarwyn Jones: "I think it is possible to retrieve the situation"

The first minister has said the UK Government has pledged to allay his fears that a bill converting EU law into British law undermines devolution.

Carwyn Jones had described the repeal bill as a "naked power-grab".

He told an assembly committee on Friday that Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns assured him they would work together "to make the situation acceptable".

Mr Cairns has expressed surprise at Mr Jones's criticism, saying the Welsh Government had helped draft the bill.

Mr Jones and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon issued a strong rebuke to the UK government's publication of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill on Thursday, saying they could not back it "as it currently stands".

Taking questions in Bangor from the assembly committee which scrutinises his work, Mr Jones said there was a feeling among civil servants in Whitehall that they were "superior" to the Welsh Assembly and would "impose their will" on the devolved administrations.

He said his dealings with the UK Government's agriculture department, Defra, led him to believe "they would create an agriculture policy which would suit one part of the UK - England".

Image caption Alun Cairns says the repeal bill gives farmers and firms "continuity and certainty"

Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas asked if the first minister was concerned that the UK Government could overrule the Welsh Government on devolved issues where there are different policies in Wales and England, such as the badger cull.

Mr Jones replied that as far as an agriculture policy goes, the UK Government could not impose a cull in Wales.

But he added that if any livestock export agreement between the UK and the EU included a badger cull, the UK Government could say "if you want to export, you have to cull. That is a possibility, yes".

Mr Cairns told BBC Radio Wales on Friday that the repeal bill was intended to give "continuity and certainty" to exporters and prevent "a cliff edge" situation of no rules being in place the day after Brexit.

"Ultimately we've said that the powers of the devolved administrations will be extended, but we really have to focus on Welsh farmers and Welsh businesses that want to export and continue to buy and trade with the European Union," he said.

"If we can't get agreement before we leave the European Union, there's a major risk that we leave Welsh farmers and Welsh businesses without a market."

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