Welsh Government plan legal action over Internal Market Act

internal market act
Source: PhotoEverywhere.co.uk (via. Wikimedia Commons)
The Welsh Government are planning to take the UK Government to court over the controversial Internal Market Act.

By Dewi Morris | Political Editor

You can read more about what the act is and why it caused such a stir here.

Despite clashes over international law concerning an initial plan of a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the bill also meant a joint market would continue between UK nations, this is known as the internal market.

Rules and regulations previously held by Brussels will, according to the act, be handed to the UK Government meaning the devolved governments would not be able to control areas such as food quality and animal welfare.

A few flashpoint examples include Wales’ plan to ban an extended list of single-use plastics which would be threatened by the act. Concerns have also been raised over chlorinated chicken, which if imported into England, would be allowed into Wales even if Wales had regulations against it.

The UK Government claims the act represents “the biggest transfer of powers in the history of devolution”. Some powers such as food labelling would be controlled by devolved governments.

However, Mark Drakeford called the act an “enormous power grab” while Nicola Sturgeon claimed it was a “full frontal assault on devolution”.

The Scottish Government voted against giving consent for the act back in October. The Welsh Government followed in December. The UK Government went ahead regardless, and now the Welsh Government are preparing to take the UK Government to court.

Having not initially passed in the House of Lords, some changes were made to the bill to allow for agreed divergence from market rules.

Wales’ Brexit minister, Jeremy Miles, said: “I was very clear that we wanted changes made to the bill but the bill was not changed in the way that we wanted.”

He added: “We’ve been very clear from the start that we will take any opportunity and all the levers that are available to us as a government to be able to protect the devolution settlement”. 

The Senedd Conservative leader Paul Davies accused the Welsh Government of “still fighting old battles”. He told BBC Politics Wales: “What the Welsh Government should be doing is promoting Welsh businesses, making sure that Welsh businesses take the opportunities now that are available to them, not just with our European friends but across the world.”

Politicians remain divided.

Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru, summarised the bill as “not a power grab but a devo-smash” and Labour backbencher Alun Davies said: “Devolution is dead if this reaches the statute book.”

However, Mark Reckless, leader of Abolish the Welsh Assembly party said he would welcome the bill if it “results in us being unable to legislate to ban people in Wales from buying things that people in England are able to buy.”

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