'Cast iron evidence' Brexit will boost devolution

By Greg Heffer, Political Reporter
The Government has published "cast iron evidence" Brexit legislation will result in new powers for the UK's devolved administrations, as it battles to win approval for a key bill.
In a provisional analysis of powers to return from Brussels after the UK quits the EU, the Government says "extensive new powers" will be handed to Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh.
In a study of 153 areas where EU laws intersect with devolved powers, the Government insists the "vast majority" of powers returning from Brussels will go straight to devolved governments on the first day the UK leaves the EU.It also says none of the existing powers held by Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh will be affected in any way.But the analysis does admit 24 policy areas are expected to require - in whole or in part - a UK-wide legislative framework after Brexit, which will result in a temporary restriction on devolved governments using new powers.The Government says this is to provide "certainty" to UK businesses while new legal systems are agreed.It comes amid a continuing battle between the Government and the devolved administrations over the EU Withdrawal Bill.Both the Scottish Government and Welsh Government have signalled their intent to push ahead with alternative Brexit legislation, in order to protect against what they claim is a Westminster "power grab" over the UK's exit from the EU.
'Cast iron evidence' Brexit will boost devolution

Cabinet Office minister David Lidington promised 'significant brand new powers'
The Prime Minister has been told she faces a constitutional crisis if she does not win the consent of devolved administrations for the EU Withdrawal Bill.The analysis, published on Friday by the Cabinet Office, claims Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh will see new powers in areas such as water quality, carbon capture, HGV charging and hydrocarbon licensing.The document adds those areas where EU powers will return to Westminster for a temporary period are expected to include animal health, food safety and labelling, and chemical regulation.Despite agriculture being a devolved matter, the UK Government claims different regimes in these areas within the UK after Brexit could hinder the UK's ability to sign new trade deals, or potentially increase costs for companies and lead to confusion for consumers.Cabinet Office minister David Lidington said: "This is cast iron evidence that the EU Withdrawal Bill will deliver significant brand new powers for the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland."The list we have published today shows how many EU powers that were controlled by Brussels, will, after Brexit, be controlled by the parliaments and assemblies in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast."The vast majority of these new powers will be in the control of the devolved administrations on the day we leave the EU.
"There is a much smaller group of powers where the devolved governments will be required to follow current EU laws for a little bit longer while we work out a new UK approach."We are discussing with the devolved governments how this process will work but, as the UK government, we feel very strongly that we must have the ability to take action to protect the UK internal market which represents a huge investment to everyone in the UK."
'Cast iron evidence' Brexit will boost devolution

The PM has been warned of a crisis if the Scottish Parliament does not consent
Mr Lidington insisted the Government has "moved a considerable distance to accommodate the concerns" of devolved governments and urged them to "engage in a similarly constructive manner".However, the Scottish Government's Brexit minister Michael Russell said the Cabinet Office analysis "simply confirms the UK Government's plans for a power grab".He said: "Under the EU Withdrawal Bill the UK will have the right to take control of any of the powers on this list."However, the publication of the categories demonstrates the threat is most immediate in key devolved areas such as agriculture, GM crops, fishing, environmental policy, public procurement, food standards and a range of other areas."Unless the bill is changed Westminster could soon be in control of these policies amounting to a major power grab and a re-writing of the devolution settlement the people of Scotland voted for so decisively."He added the Scottish Government's will continue to proceed with their own EU Continuity Bill at Holyrood, in the absence of an agreement over the Westminster legislation.The Welsh Government's Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford, said: "These are not 'new powers' - they are already devolved to Wales."This analysis shows that the UK Government want to exert control on 24 areas relevant to Wales out of a total of 64."The UK Government need to make significant changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill to fully respect devolution."We have put forward constructive proposals to reach agreement on the necessary changes. Our discussions will continue."
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At a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Council of the UK Government and devolved administrations this week, Mr Lidington committed to tabling changes to Clause 11 of the EU Withdrawal Bill in order to ease devolution concerns, but was told the proposed amendments do not go far enough.It is understood the JMC agreed the UK Government should publish the list of powers so plans could be fully scrutinised.
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