1. ITV Report

Welsh Government asks AMs to back EU law showdown

AMs are to be asked to approve the use of emergency legislation laying claim to all the European Union's powers in devolved areas such as agriculture and economic development. The Welsh Government says it has to act because there's still no agreement with the UK Government about how EU powers should be distributed after Brexit.

If the Welsh Government goes ahead, AMs will be asked to rush the legislation through under an emergency procedure. Credit: PA

Our political editor, Adrian Masters, says it's the nuclear option for Welsh and Scottish ministers - it would force the UK Government to refer it to the Supreme court and it could overturn it altogether but that could cause a constitutional stand off. It's also a race against time in the Assembly before the provisions of the new Wales Act come into force in April. It explicitly reserves EU matters to Westminster.

The Assembly's Presiding Officer, Elin Jones, has ruled that AMs have the right to pass the legislation under their existing powers. In Scotland, where the devolution settlement is closer to what's about to be introduced in Wales, the Presiding Officer has ruled against the legislation, although that won't stop the SNP government asking the Scottish Parliament to pass its bill.

The EU Withdrawal Bill , as currently drafted, would allow the UK Government to take control of laws and policy areas that are devolved. This is simply not acceptable to the Welsh Government, or the people of Wales who have voted for devolution in two referendums.

Decisions taken now will affect Wales for decades to come. It is vital these decisions are made in a way that respects devolution.

We remain constructive partners in talks with the UK Government about changes to their EU Withdrawal Bill – and this remains our preferred outcome. However, we are running out of time and have developed our Bill to prepare for a situation where the UK Government does not adequately amend its Bill to respect the devolution settlement.

It would be irresponsible to refuse to give legislative consent to the UK Government’s Bill while also not being prepared to put in place our own measures to give clarity about EU-derived law in Wales relating to devolved matters.

Let me be clear, our Bill will not be an attempt to frustrate or block Brexit. We are simply seeking to protect the current devolution settlement for Wales, while making sure there is legal certainty when the UK leaves the EU. This what Welsh businesses are calling for.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

The Scottish Government is expected to introduce similar legislation. The Welsh Conservative leader, Andrew RT Davies, has accused Carwyn Jones of "playing politics" and following the lead of the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

Both Plaid Cymru and UKIP say they support the Welsh Government's position.

Plaid Cymru welcomes the news that the Welsh Government is finally taking preventative action to defend Welsh democracy from the Tories’ unacceptable power-grab. We have been arguing that a Welsh Continuity Bill is needed to stop the EU Withdrawal Bill being used to smuggle past the roll-back of Welsh powers.

The introduction of the Continuity Bill sends a clear message: Wales will not allow the Westminster government to run rough-shod over devolution. We will legislate to defend Welsh democracy.

– Simon Thomas AM, Plaid Cymru

By blocking a direct transfer of powers in devolved areas from Brussels to Cardiff, Theresa May has handed a weapon to Brexit opponents.

This is another unnecessary row and a symptom of her bungled Brexit, overseen by her rebellious Cabinet of Remainers with tin ears. Brexit should be all about devolution from unelected bureaucrats to elected politicians at the most local level practicable.

– UKIP Wales leader Neil Hamilton AM

The UK Government has responded by saying that not only isn't Welsh legislation needed, it would be far better if the Welsh Government concentrated on agreeing amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill, which is now in the House of Lords.

There is no need for the legislation being proposed by the Welsh government. It would be better for them to concentrate on reaching an agreement on the [EU] Withdrawal Bill, which will provide consistency across the UK to ensure that all parts of the UK are ready for our departure from the European Union.

The UK Government has put a considerable offer on the table and we would like the devolved administrations to engage constructively. We are still hopeful that we can reach agreement with the devolved administrations on the Bill in the coming weeks.

– UK Government Spokesperson