Brexit devolution offer rejected but talks to continue

Scotland's Brexit minister and Wales' Finance Secretary arrived together Credit: Adrian Masters

An attempt to avoid a constitutional crisis involving the Welsh, UK and Scottish Governments failed today, though the three sides say they'll keep talking.

They've fallen out over whether Brexit should mean Cardiff Bay and Edinburgh will have to obey Westminster about issues such as food standards and financial support for businesses.

Credit: PA

UK ministers made what they called 'a considerable offer' to alter the EU Withdrawal Bill try to end the stalemate in talks with the Welsh and Scottish Governments.

However, it wasn't considerable enough for Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford and Scottish Brexit Minister Mike Russell who left the meeting saying there needed to be more talks.

Today's meeting of the Joint Ministerial Council had been chaired by Theresa May's deputy, David Liddington.

He saw encouraging signs of progress:

We had a constructive discussion today. We have not yet secured an agreement but have agreed to meet again in the very near future to crack this.

The Devolved Administrations acknowledged that the proposal we offered yesterday was a significant step forward.

We want to find an agreed way forward that respects and strengthens the devolution settlements and which also provides certainty for businesses and families as we depart the EU.

As we have always been clear, it is our intention that the Devolved Administrations will have more powers as a result of this process.

It is also very important that we protect the UK internal market and ensure that companies all across the UK are able to buy and sell freely.

– David Liddington MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

Mark Drakeford, who represented the Welsh Government at today's talks, acknowledged that the UK Government had made a concession.

It's a step forward. I acknowledge that the UK Government has listened to some of the things that we have been saying. It's not there yet, there's more work that needs to be done.

– Mark Drakeford AM, Finance Secretary

The Welsh and Scottish ministers have called for more talks next week. It's understood that may be difficult because of diary commitments but the UK Government says it will bring forward another meeting.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns is upbeat about prospects of agreement.

This was another positive step. We didn't expect an agreement at this meeting because we've only just shared the potential amendments that could be tabled. The UK Government has made a significant offer. We're focussing on outcomes: one is protecting the UK market for Welsh producers and farmers who want to be able to supply in the UK without a different regulatory or rule regime here in the UK. But we're also doing everything we can to protect the devolution settlement.

– Alun Cairns MP, Secretary of State for Wales