Minister calls for bigger Brexit role as talks resume

The ministers at their last meeting in London in October Credit: PA, Stefan Rousseau

The latest in a series of talks between UK and Welsh ministers on Brexit have taken place with the two governments still at odds in some key areas.

Today's meeting was the first since the Prime Minister reached agreement with European negotiators that will allow discussions to move on to future trade relations.

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford represented the Welsh Government at the meeting in London which was chaired by Theresa May's deputy, Damian Green.

Ahead of today's talks, Mr Drakeford repeated the demand from ministers in Cardiff that devolved governments should be more fully involved in the negotiations with the EU.

The progress we saw last week is to be welcomed but there is a huge amount of hard work to be done if we are to achieve the right sort of Brexit. This is just the green light for more talks, talks that will get to the heart of what our relationship with the EU will look like after Brexit.

As the talks move on to discuss detailed issues related to the transition and to the long-term relationship, it is vital that the devolved administrations are fully involved with the negotiations in a way we have not been to date.

These negotiations will involve questions such as agriculture support during and after the transition period, the sort of environmental regulation we will have in future and whether the UK will continue to be part of important European programmes for education and research, such as Erasmus Plus and Horizon 2020 - all issues which are firmly within the remit of the devolved institutions.

It’s essential that the UK Government agrees a common approach to these and many other issues – not least our future access to the Single Market - with the devolved administrations in advance of the negotiations, based on a proper consideration of the evidence.

– Mark Drakeford AM, Finance Secretary

Disagreement has centred on where so-called legislative frameworks are needed. They will legally bind the Welsh and Scottish Governments to accept a UK-wide arrangement after Brexit, in place of rules and regulations currently made in Brussels.

Today we have agreed in principle on the policy areas where legislative frameworks will and will not be required. This is a significant step forward and while there are still areas we disagree on, we will continue to work through these and find solutions.

The powers and responsibilities of the devolved administrations will be enhanced as a result of EU exit and we will continue to work closely with them so that the new framework arrangements work effectively for all parts of the UK.

The next steps will be for government officials to continue discussions on the limited number of areas where legislative frameworks may be required. A range of non-legislative frameworks will also be explored. These frameworks will protect the benefits of the UK internal market, ensure the UK can negotiate, enter into and implement new trade agreements and allow us to safeguard the security of the UK.

– First Secretary of State Damian Green MP

Despite claims of progress in recent discussions, the Welsh Government remains opposed to the EUWithdrawal Bill which it claims will seize powers in devolved areas such as fishing and farming when those powers return from the EU. It says it will advise AMs to deny consent to the Bill as it affects Wales, threatening a constitutional crisis.

The UK Government has said that it will transfer as many powers as possible to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland but insists that some rules and regulations must continue to operate on a UK-wide basis or risk creating problems for business within the United Kingdom.

The Government needs to bring forward amendments before the Bill leaves the House of Commons, as it has suggested is likely. If it does not, while we are clear that a UK-wide approach that respects devolution is the best approach, we are ready and able to put in place our own legislation: work on this has been underway or many months and everything will be in position, should it be needed.

– Mark Drakeford AM, Finance Secretary