Welsh Government anger at Johnson's 'go-it-alone' approach to EU talks

There's no surprise that the First Minister has criticised Boris Johnson's new EU negotiating position. They have very different and clearly expressed views about Britain's future relationship with the EU.

What's more surprising is that Mark Drakeford has publicly condemned the UK Government for going it alone despite assurances that his government along with administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland would have a significant role in future talks. It's a sign to me of a serious breakdown in an already over-stretched relationship.

First the criticism of the newly-published negotiating mandate. Mark Drakeford said: "What the UK Government is proposing will damage the Welsh economy and jobs. They are offering a basic, bare bones relationship that lacks ambition and lets down Wales.

"The UK Government have refused to put forward any analysis of the impact of the relationship they want. Not being straight with the public on what this approach will mean for our economy is unacceptable.

"They are rushing to get a deal – any deal – by the end of the year. That political ambition is clearly more important to them than getting a deal that is in the interests of all the nations of the UK."

But the two leaders never were going to agree on this. Much more significant to me is that the First Minister also chose to make this statement:

Over the last three and a half years, we have taken every opportunity to speak to UK Ministers about the specific concerns we have on protecting and promoting the Welsh economy, providing evidence and proposals. The UK Government has chosen a very different course.

Mark Drakeford AM, First Minister
Credit: PA Images

This suggests to me a possible breakdown of an already stretched relationship between the Welsh and UK Governments.

In recent inter-governmental talks the Welsh and Scottish Governments have avoided an all-out confrontation because of repeated promises in public and private of a significant role in talks.

During that period, Mark Drakeford and the Welsh Government have been open to criticism that they've been too willing to try to reach an accommodation with the UK Government but have put great store in assurances from Steve Barclay and Michael Gove.

When I asked Michael Gove last month if the devolved governments would have a role in future talks he said, without any apparent ambiguity, 'Oh yes, absolutely.'

So that 'to our great regret' in Mark Drakeford's statement speaks volumes to me. It suggests that the Welsh Government's patience has been stretched too far. The Scottish Government's has already gone.

They've all walked back from all-out confrontation before. But will they do so this time?