Wales politics

Plaid Cymru Brexit bill warning to Welsh ministers

Simon Thomas
Image caption Simon Thomas says a "belts and braces approach" is needed

Plaid Cymru has urged the Labour Welsh Government not "to trust the Tories anymore" on a proposed Brexit law.

Plaid AM Simon Thomas was responding to a delay in UK ministers' timetable for changing the EU Withdrawal Bill to reflect concerns over its impact on devolution.

Welsh Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said ministers in Cardiff would hold the UK Government to its commitment.

Theresa May said her administration was still committed to changing the bill.

It emerged on Tuesday that the UK Government would backtrack on its intention to introduce the relevant amendments during next week's debate.

The proposed law will move from the Report Stage in the House of Commons to the House of Lords.

Image caption Theresa May says she wants "the right frameworks in place"

Asked about the delay during Wednesday's Prime minister's Questions, Theresa May said "We will be looking to bring forward amendments in the Lords".

"We are looking to work with the devolved administrations to ensure that we put the right frameworks in place so that when we come to bring any amendment forward it is being done in the best possible way in the interests of all concerned," she added.

In December, changes proposed by the Welsh and Scottish governments to the EU Withdrawal bill failed to pass in the Commons.

Ministers in Cardiff and Edinburgh oppose the bill's provisions for powers in devolved areas to be handed back to Westminster in the first instance.

The UK Government has promised there will eventually be more powers for the devolved institutions after Brexit.

Plaid Mid and West Wales AM Mr Thomas called the slip in the timetable a "really deep and desperate failure by the Westminster government".

Mr Thomas added: "Why continue to trust the Tories?

"Why put the constitutional future of Wales in the hands of a Conservative government which has failed to deliver on its promises?

"Why not now bring forward your own Continuity Bill which you have prepared, which is ready, which you can now use as a belts and braces approach to ensure that we do not lose out on the future arrangements as we leave the European Union?"

Image caption Mark Drakeford: "I have never trusted the Tories on this or any other matter"

The Welsh Government prepared a post-Brexit Continuity Bill as a way of keeping EU regulations within Welsh law through assembly legislation.

Responding to Mr Thomas's questions in the assembly, Mr Drakeford said: "If they continue to drag their feet, if they continue to fail to have the necessary discussions, we have a Continuity Bill that we have prepared that is in a state that is ready to be introduced and if we cant get a solution by our preferred route, which is to put the withdrawal bill in proper order, then we will have to bring forward the bill.

"It is deeply disappointing that the UK Government, having given an explicit commitment to bring forward amendments at Report Stage, have failed to do so.

"Let me give the member an assurance that I have never trusted the Tories on this or any other matter.

"What the [Welsh] government has to do is to hold the [UK] government to the commitment that it has made," he added.

David Rees, chair of the assembly's Brexit committee, said the timescale in which the assembly could introduce a continuity bill was "getting tighter and tighter all the time the longer this takes...so we have to start taking this forward."

Mr Drakeford said the Welsh Government was "very alert to the timetable issues".

The Scottish Government announced on Wednesday that it could introduce such legislation at Holyrood in February.

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