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Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones threaten to derail flagship Brexit bill

2 min read

Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones have threatened to derail the Government's flagship Brexit bill and accused Theresa May of mounting a "power grab" on Scotland and Wales.

In a highly-unusual move the two First Ministers issued a joint statement condemning the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which was published this morning.

Officials have confirmed that both the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly will need to give their consent for the legislation - which transfers EU laws onto the UK statute book - to apply across Great Britain.

But the SNP and Welsh Labour leaders said that they could not recommend supporting the bill in its current form.

In particular, they suggest that Brexit will lead to the UK government taking control of areas, such as fishing and agriculture, which are currently devolved.

They said: "We have repeatedly tried to engage with the UK government on these matters, and have put forward constructive proposals about how we can deliver an outcome which will protect the interests of all the nations in the UK, safeguard our economies and respect devolution. 

"Regrettably, the bill does not do this. Instead, it is a naked power-grab, an attack on the founding principles of devolution and could destabilise our economies."

The pair added: "The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill does not return powers from the EU to the devolved administrations, as promised. It returns them solely to the UK government and parliament, and imposes new restrictions on the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales.

"On that basis, the Scottish and Welsh governments cannot recommend that legislative consent is given to the bill as it currently stands."

Although Holyrood and the Welsh Assembly cannot halt Brexit by withholding support for the bill, they could provide another headache for Theresa May by forcing her to offer some concessions.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the bill was "not a power grab but a power bonanza for the Scottish Parliament".

A UK Government source told PoliticsHome: "There's an expectation that in areas like the environment, criminal justice, consumer rights and energy, the Scottish Parliament will gain significant new decision-making powers as quickly as possible - with some operational on day one."

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