Liam Fox demands power to bypass Scotland and Wales on trade deals - report

Posted On: 
19th August 2017

Liam Fox wants the power to bypass the Scottish and Welsh government when agreeing free trade deals after Brexit, according to a report.

Liam Fox speaking at the Conservative conference
Credit: 
PA Images

The Trade Secretary believes that devolved administrations should not be able to veto free trade agreements and has written to Cabinet colleagues laying out his position. Mr Fox believes the administrations should also not sit on the new board of trade that Theresa May is reforming, The Times reports.

In his letter, Mr Fox set out four options for trade deals, including agreeing a common position with devolved governments, but is understood to favour options that do not give them a veto on deals.

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The move has split the Cabinet. Mr Fox has the backing of some senior Cabinet colleagues but others, including Scottish Secretary David Mundell and Welsh Secretary James Brokenshire believe the move will undermine the devolution settlement.

A government source told the paper: “Liam is pushing to ensure that trade deals remain a reserve power for the UK and the letter went into ministerial boxes in the last week.

“The secretaries of state for devolved institutions are very, very keen to keep the devolved administrations on board and work together in a collaborative way.

“We can see a situation where the Scottish government is not going to allow trade deals to work.”

One of the options Mr Fox set out is a compromise that would mean devolved administrations are kept updated on the progress of talks but do not allow them to set the negotiating position.

Replies to Mr Fox’s suggestions are still being submitted.