Ministers from Wales and Scotland meet UK Government in another bid to end EU powers row

Welsh, Scottish and UK ministers failed to reach agreement when they last met

Ministers from Wales and Scotland will hold talks with the UK Government in an effort to end a standoff between the three governments over how EU powers should be shared out after Brexit.

The meeting will attempt to reach agreement despite the failure of previous talks and despite both Welsh and Scottish governments launching audacious bids to claim the disputed powers for themselves.

Those moves, contained in ‘continuity bills’, followed a decision by the two devolved governments to reject a compromise by the UK Government over its EU Withdrawal Bill.

That compromise was described by the UK government as ‘a substantial offer’ which would see the disputed powers transferred to Cardiff and Edinburgh but with a veto for ministers in London in some cases.

They say the veto is crucial to ensure the smooth running of rules and regulations for trading between different parts of the UK.

Welsh and Scottish Governments say the offer doesn’t go far enough as it doesn’t recognise the principle of consent.

They say they understand that some rules and regulations currently run from Brussels will need to be operated on a UK-wise basis but they say such UK-wide systems which overlap devolved areas should be agreed by all administrations.

I understand that there have been private talks between the governments over the course of last weekend and that Number 10 is optimistic that agreement can be reached although not necessarily at today's meeting. After all there's another get-together planned for next week which will see Theresa May meet Carwyn Jones and Nicola Sturgeon.

However I understand from Welsh Government sources that there’s been no new offer.

That means Welsh ministers will recommend that AMs refuse to give it consent as it applies to Wales and they’ll push ahead with their continuity bill which is being sped through the Assembly after AMs voted this week to treat it as emergency legislation.

Both things will lead to a constitutional clash. The UK Government can ignore the vote to refuse consent and is likely to refer the continuity bill to the Supreme Court.

Today's meeting will be chaired by the cabinet office minister David Lidington. Northern Ireland will be represented by civil servants because its devolved government is suspended. The Scottish government is sending Brexit minister Mike Russell and Finance Minister Mark Drakeford will represent Wales.

Speaking ahead of the meeting he said:

Our concerns about the UK government’s EU Withdrawal Bill remain. As currently drafted, it allows Whitehall to take control of devolved policy areas, such as farming and fishing, once we have left the EU.

We urgently need to reach an agreement that protects devolution and we believe this can be achieved through the right amendments and that is why we continue to talk to the UK Government on this issue.

However, the clock is ticking and the Parliamentary timetable is against us. It is vital that an agreement on our devolution settlement post-Brexit is achieved as soon as possible.

– Mark Drakeford AM,

Sources close to David Lidington last week hinted at a feeling that the Welsh Government was more likely to reach agreement than the Scottish government.

That feeling could be justified. 'This is not where we want to be', a Welsh Government source told me. 'We want to reach agreement.'