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Legal advice proves 'dodgy' deal will weaken Assembly says Leanne Wood

Leanne Wood accused Carwyn Jones of reaching a 'dodgy deal'

Plaid Cymru has published legal advice which it says shows that the Welsh Government's decision not to oppose the UK Government's main Brexit bill will 'weaken' the Assembly's powers in the future.

The party's leader Leanne Wood has written to the First Minister highlighting the advice from the Assembly's own lawyers. She'd earlier accused him of reaching 'a dodgy deal between the Tories in Westminster and your Labour Government.'

In response, Carwyn Jones conceded that the agreement was 'not ideal' but said that it 'safeguarded' the powers of the Assembly.

He's been criticised by Plaid Cymru for dropping his previous opposition to the UK Government's EU Withdrawal Bill which both he and the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had described as 'a power grab.'

The move, known as 'the inter-governmental agreement', came following months of talks and concessions by ministers in London. You can read the details hereand here.

The Scottish Government continues to oppose the bill.

Leanne Wood quoted the legal advice during First Minister's Questions without initially identifying the source. She asked Carwyn Jones:

The EU withdrawal Bill, as amended, will still allow the Assembly's competence to be restricted without its consent, and the inter-governmental agreement does not provide water-tight assurance that this will not happen. Does the First Minister agree or disagree with that statement?

– Leanne Wood AM, Plaid Cymru leader

In response to that, Carwyn Jones said:

I disagree with the way that it's been put, because I think we've come a long way from where the UK Government were; they have given a lot of ground. It's not ideal from our perspective, of course not, but the nature of an agreement is that you come to ground that you believe to be common ground. What the agreement says is that the UK Government will not normally legislate in devolved areas. That simply reflects what's already said in the devolved settlements across the UK. It is something, I think, that will need to be addressed in the future, but I believe we have an agreement that shows that a lot of ground has been given by the UK Government

– Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister
Leanne Wood has written to Carwyn Jones highlighting the legal advice

Plaid Cymru claims that was a 'clear mistake' by the First Minister and that he was 'rattled' when Leanne Wood revealed the source of the quotation.

Explaining why she's now written to Carwyn Jones, she said:

Lawyers have now confirmed just how damaging this Labour-Tory deal is for Wales. Our National Assembly will be weakened and the Labour Government can’t offer a single explanation as to why.

When the First Minister claims that the Assembly’s own lawyers are wrong, it is clear that he has lost the political, legal and moral argument on this issue.

I have written to him in significant detail following First Minister’s Questions, outlining each of the failings of the agreement as outlined by the Assembly’s lawyers. He must now promptly respond with the answers that the people of Wales deserve.

– Leanne Wood AM, Plaid Cymru leader