Devolved administrations hold Brexit talks

City Hall in Cardiff, which hosted the talks (Source: Jon Candy via Flickr)

By Anna Dutton

Earlier this week, Theresa May met with the leaders of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland in Cardiff to discuss and outline a plan for leaving the EU. There is likely to be some dispute among leaders as both Scotland and Wales have outlined their own plans for their future relationship with the EU that stresses a commitment to the single market and less focus on curbing immigration.

Before meeting with the Prime Minister, Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones and the Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood published their own Brexit plan. The leader said that the plan respected the Welsh vote to leave, but understood that access to the single market was necessary for the Welsh economy. The plan contrasted Theresa May’s outlook on immigration by suggesting a more balanced approach was needed, linking immigration to jobs. It also called for a ‘fundamentally different’ relationship for the devolved powers and the UK government.

There was some disagreement in Wales surrounding the plan as Neil Hamilton, leader of Welsh UKIP, felt there was no real policy on immigration and that instead of being a white piece of paper, it signalled a ‘white flag of surrender’ by giving the EU everything they wanted. He went on to claim that the only way for Wales and the rest of the UK to control its departure from the EU is to exit the single market.

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that leaving the single market is likely to spark a second independence vote because Scotland voted to remain in the EU and like Wales, are more dependent on the single market.

The differing stances on the UK’s position to the EU after triggering Article 50 is thus a difficult one because each faction of the UK requires a more personal deal. For Scotland and Wales, the EU is a necessary market so access to the single market is imperative as it provides greater financial security. May has focused on immigration to reflect the concerns of the English voters, but has remained positive, saying she will take on board the views of devolved parliaments.

In summary, leaving the EU will be a difficult process regardless of whether each country gets the deal they want in future negotiations. The Prime Minister does not necessarily have to listen to the devolved powers as the Supreme Court ruled that the Government is not legally compelled to consult devolved legislatures.

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