Theresa May warned on approach to devolution as she starts Brexit tour of UK
Theresa May will today travel to Wales on the first leg of a tour of the UK before triggering Article 50.
The Prime Minister’s visit is part of an “ongoing engagement” with the devolved nations prior to beginning the Brexit process, which she plans to do before the end of March.
Downing Street said Mrs May would be “engaging and listening to people from right across the nation as we prepare to leave the EU as one United Kingdom”.
But ahead of her trip Mrs May has been warned by the First of Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, that she faces a looming row over providing greater powers to the devolved governments.
He said the Prime Minister would have to rethink her approach or risk stoking separatist sentiment in Wales.
“If they are not careful, people’s sense of disengagement with Brussels will simply attach itself to London,” he told the Guardian.
“They are giving the impression sometimes that they do not listen.
“And what kind of message is that to the people of Wales? We need to see there is a dividend in being a devolutionist government that supports the union and we don’t see that dividend.
“Otherwise people in Wales are going to start saying, well, the Government is listening to the Scots, we need to be like them. And that’s a dangerous path for the UK.”
A Downing Street source told the Guardian decisions on granting fresh powers to the devolved administrations post-Brexit would be made at a later date.
“We’ve been listening the views of all different regions through the joint ministerial council,” the source said.
“On the powers coming back from Brussels, we have said that first it will come back to Westminster. And then when it is appropriate to devolve further, then we would. That decision will be taken at a later date.”
Mrs May will today meet Mr Jones and representatives from business and other sectors alongside Brexit Secretary David Davis.
‘BREXIT DEAL FOR WHOLE OF THE UK’
Nicola Sturgeon last week called for a fresh vote on Scottish independence between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, after claiming the Government has not factored in Holyrood’s demands into its Brexit plans.
Mrs May has insisted that through the Joint Ministerial Committee Scotland has made its representations to ministers and will continue to have the opportunity to do so.
The committee is comprised of representatives from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the Government.
Speaking ahead of her visit to Wales, Mrs May highlighted the work between the Government and the devolved administrations in securing a “city deal” for Swansea that has attracted investment worth £1.3bn and could deliver 9,000 new jobs.
“From my first day on the steps of Downing Street, I made clear my determination to strengthen and sustain the precious Union,” she said.
“I have also been clear that as we leave the European Union I will work to deliver a deal that works for the whole of the UK.
"I want every part of the United Kingdom to be able to make the most of the opportunities ahead and for Welsh businesses to benefit from the freest possible trade as part of a global trading nation.
She added: "The deal is a great example of what can be achieved when the UK Government , the Welsh Government and local authorities work together to secure a deal that benefits the city and the whole of Wales.
"This Government's Plan for Britain will seek to deliver a stronger, fairer United Kingdom and a better deal for ordinary working people in Wales and across the nation.”