Brexit: Progress made in talks to settle 'power grab' row

By James Williams
BBC Wales Brexit correspondent

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Media caption,

Mark Drakeford said progress had been made, but the talks did not go far enough

The UK and Welsh governments have said progress has been made during talks to settle a Brexit "power grab" row.

UK ministers said they were making a "considerable" offer to allay Welsh and Scottish fears over where powers returning from Brussels would be held.

Wales' Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said the offer "didn't go far enough".

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns the aim was to reach the "right outcome for business" rather than "pleasing politicians at either end of the M4".

The Welsh and Scottish governments want changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill during its passage through the House of Lords to ensure their national interests do not suffer when EU responsibilities in devolved policy areas like farming return to the UK.

After the meeting in London on Thursday, Mr Drakeford said: "There is progress - there are ideas we were able to discuss today.

But he added: "They didn't go far enough. They don't meet all the things that we think are necessary to persuade the National Assembly for Wales to support the bill.

"But we'll meet again and hope that we'll be able to conclude agreement in advance of amendments being put down in the House of Lords."

Mr Drakeford said any UK-wide policy "frameworks" after Brexit had to be made by agreement.

He asked if the assembly was "being asked to give up responsibilities that it holds today for a temporary period, how can the assembly have confidence that those things are being done with our consent?"

Image caption,
Alun Cairns said the devolution settlement would be respected

From the UK government side, Mr Cairns said it was another "positive, constructive meeting" but added: "I think it's a matter of delivering the right outcome for business.

"And it's how we do that whilst respecting the devolution settlement and also maintaining the integrity of the UK common market.

"This is about doing the right thing for business, industry and communities rather than pleasing politicians at either end of the M4."

Despite some discussion over the proposed changes to the bill, the majority of the meeting focused on a gathering of Prime Minister Theresa May and her senior ministers at her country retreat, Chequers, to try to hammer out a deal over the UK government's approach to Brexit.

Mr Drakeford said it was an opportunity for him to press for the needs of the Welsh economy and Welsh jobs to be "at the top of the list".

Although Mr Cairns was not present at the Chequers talks, he denied the Welsh voice was not being heard as he sat on other cabinet committees discussing Brexit.

"Ultimately, of course, all of it comes in front of the whole cabinet for approval," he added.