Lidington warns Wales to 'pull together' over Brexit or risk leaving the UK poorer and weaker

David Lidington will set out what Brexit means for all four UK nations Credit: PA, Lauren Hurley

There'll be a warning to leaders of the Welsh and Scottish governments to 'pull together' during Brexit negotiations or risk making the UK 'a poorer country that is divided at home and a weaker player on the global stage.'

The warning will come from David Lidington, who acts as Theresa May's deputy, when he speaks at the Airbus factory in Broughton later.

It'll be the latest in a series of 'Road to Brexit' speeches by cabinet big-hitters designed to set out what the government sees as the opportunities of leaving the European Union.

Mr Lidington will also use his speech to make a fresh attempt to defuse a standoff with the Welsh and Scottish Governments over claims that the UK Government's EU Withdrawal Bill is a 'power grab.'

That's only one of a number of disagreements between the agreements over the negotiating stances taken by Westminster figures.

In his speech at Broughton, David Lidington is expected to say that the administrations should push those differences only so far:

We face a choice: a choice that represents the difference between a prosperous, secure nation that is united at home and stronger abroad, and a poorer country that is divided at home and a weaker player on the global stage.

Our aim should be nothing less than to see our entire country coming together and having their voices heard. It means people here in Wales, as well as in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England - and it means our villages, towns cities and communities throughout the United Kingdom – they all have a voice too.

As we negotiate a new deep and special partnership with our friends and neighbours in Europe and forge a new role for the United Kingdom in the world, we must work for a future that fosters wealth-creation, opportunity and innovation in every part of the United Kingdom, and which strengthens the sense of security, belonging and solidarity in all communities, building a country that works for everyone.

We are all more prosperous and more secure when we all work together for our common good as one United Kingdom. Leaving the EU presents many challenges for our centuries-old union story - and opportunities too. Some want to use it as an excuse to loosen these ties that bind us together – even sever them completely. Such an outcome would leave every one of our four nations both weaker and poorer.

– David Lidington MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Work on Airbus wings is carried out at the Broughton factory Credit: PA, Peter Byrne

There's little sign of any pulling together when it comes to the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Carwyn Jones and Nicola Sturgeon have condemned it as a 'power grab' because it insists that some rules and regulations which will return from Brussels should continue to be controlled by Whitehall.

The UK Government hoped to end the stalemate last week by making a concession which would see those powers transferred directly to Cardiff and Edinburgh, albeit with a continuing veto for ministers in London.

Despite the concession, talks failed and there were demands for a further meeting this week.

In his speech, David Lidington will explain why he believes the change and the alterations to the bill which would follow, represent such a 'considerable offer.'

Let’s be in no doubt: this would mean a very big change to the EU Withdrawal Bill that is before Parliament and a significant step forward in these negotiations.

This would put on the face of the Bill what we have always said was our intention: wide-ranging devolution not just away from Brussels, but from Westminster too.

This offer puts beyond doubt our commitment to a smooth and orderly departure from the European Union, in a way that doesn’t just respect the devolution settlements, but strengthens and enhances them.

So our proposal is to amend the Bill before Parliament to make clear that while frameworks are being agreed, the presumption would now be that powers returning from the EU should sit at a devolved level.

– David Lidington MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

He'll also defend the need for a veto to continue in some areas.

But on the other hand, some powers are clearly related to the UK as a whole and will need to continue to apply in the same way across all four nations in order to protect consumers and businesses who buy and sell across the UK, in all parts of what we might call the United Kingdom’s common market. That market is one of the fundamental expressions of the constitutional integrity that underpins our existence as a union.

The Government will protect that vital common market of the UK. And by retaining UK frameworks where necessary we retain our ability not only to act in the national interest when we need to, but to do so with a unity of purpose that places the prosperity and security of all of our citizens, no matter where they are from or where they were born, to the fore.

– David Lidington MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

'The UK Government must come to its senses'

Plaid Cymru's Hywel Williams will call for a new approach

Plaid Cymru has called for Mr Lidington to use the opportunity of the speech to commit to continued membership of the single market and customs union.

The party's Brexit spokesperson Hywel Williams said he also wants to see other major changes to the UK Government's approach.

He must also make it clear that the UK Government will abandon its attempts to use Brexit as a means of reinstating direct Westminster-rule over the devolved countries and remove the power-grab clause from the Withdrawal Bill altogether.

Our farmers and rural communities also need a categoric assurance that they will continue to receive their direct payments and rural development funding long beyond the end of this parliament. It's one thing for Westminster to support the large, corporate farms in England but Welsh hill farmers need to hear clear and direct commitments on Monday from the UK Government.

Lastly, providing special deals for special sectors, such as the motor manufacturing in the north east of England is no proper answer. This would just set one industry against another whilst ensuring the unfavored sectors go to the wall. The way to ensure all sectors are protected is to stay in the Single Market and the Customs Union permanently.

– Hywel Williams MP, Plaid Cymru

Whether or not Britain negotiates ways of staying in the single market and/or the customs union either permanently or during a transition period is a matter of intense debate amongst and within political parties.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to announce today that his party has agreed a position which is that the UK should look to form a new customs union with the rest of the EU, even if that means restrictions on other trade agreements.

While there's been confusion about the UK party's position until now, Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones has been clearer about his support for remaining in a customs union.

Plaid Cymru will try to highlight that difference with a debate in the Assembly chamber later this week.

As an opposition debate it won't commit the Welsh Government but Plaid says a strong vote will give Wales 'more leverage' in Brexit negotiations.

Criticising Labour's confused position, Leanne Wood urged Welsh Labour to make clear it supports remaining in the current customs union.

That is why we are reiterating our calls for Wales to show unity in favour of remaining in the existing EU customs union.

On Wednesday Plaid Cymru will lead a debate in the Senedd to put this case to the vote. It's vital that Wales's hand is strengthened in any Brexit negotiations - we cannot do this without more leverage.

We urge AMs from all parties to join us in making the case for protecting key sectors and exports by supporting continued membership of the customs union. This will be an opportunity for them to show their commitment to the future of the Welsh economy.

– Leanne Wood AM, Plaid Cymru leader