Time for another Brexit Update as time is marching on and there is less than a year before the UK leaves the EU on March 29th 2019. So what is new? What has been settled?
Firstly: Nothing has been settled.
The UK Brexit negotiators have worked out a Draft Agreement where the Fishing Grounds are left open to the remaining 27 countries of the EU and huge parts are left undecided mainly because they are about a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community
Secondly: The Devolved Administrations
The Northern Ireland Assembly is still not sitting.
The Welsh Assembly voted overwhelmingly for a Continuity Bill. The Welsh Government has agreed to the UK Government demands which would see them lose control of powers they currently have from the EU for 5 years. The Welsh Government will now recommend that the National Assembly for Wales pass a Legislative Consent Motion for the EU Withdrawal Bill.
The Scottish Parliament which had the consent of all political parties except for the Tories and 1 LibDem for its Continuity Bill has not agreed to accept the terms put before them by the UK Government. The powers which the Scottish Parliament currently has could be limited by up to 7 years. The Scottish People were promised in 2014 on the eve of the Scottish Independence vote that they would have increased powers and that Scotland would remain in the EU. It appears that what was in The Vow has been completely reneged on since that vote.
In a letter to The Prime Minister Theresa May the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon set out the Scottish Government’s position.
Michael Russell,Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe in the Scottish Government commenting on the latest amendments proposed by the UK Government said:
“These amendments will make it easier than ever before for the UK Government to constrain the Scottish Parliament and undermine devolution.
“This bill allows the UK Government to prevent the Scottish Parliament legislating to protect farmers, our fishing communities, the environment, and a range of other devolved policy areas for up to seven years.
“It is now crystal clear in terms never seen before that the Scottish Parliament can be over-ridden by the UK Government – not just on the withdrawal bill, but on a range of Brexit issues.
“It is now for those who believe we should accept these amendments to set out why they are happy to allow the Scottish Parliament to be undermined in such a way.
“We will continue to talk with the UK Government to see if a solution can be agreed. That can either be a removal of clause 11 so that all the governments of the UK proceed on the basis of trust and agreement or the EU Withdrawal Bill can be amended so that the consent of the Scottish Parliament is required before the powers of the Parliament can be constrained.”
Click here to read the UK Government amendments to Clause 11 of the EU Withdrawal Bill
Thirdly: Is Anyone Ready?
The Westminster Public Accounts Committee has published its report on Brexit where it voices grave concerns over the lack of preparedness of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in the UK Government.
Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee said:
“The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy appears to be operating in a parallel universe where urgency is an abstract concept with no bearing on the Brexit process.
“The Department is responsible for around a fifth of the work streams the Government must complete as the UK leaves the EU. It is an extremely important, challenging and time-sensitive workload.
“Yet the Department told us it had not re-prioritised its overall programme of work, had not begun procurement for around a dozen essential digital systems and could not provide vital information about its workforce.
“We have grave concerns about this apparent complacency, compounded by the lack of transparency on the Department’s progress with what in some cases will be critical projects.”
The work not yet done includes 12 new IT digital systems for things like trademarks.
It should be noted that the People of Scotland voted:
- to have a Scottish Parliament
- to remain in the UK with the understanding that this would ensure that they continued to be in the EU
- to remain in the EU.
It should also be noted that Prime Minister Theresa May presides over a minority Government relying on the votes of the DUP which she purchased with tax payers money.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame
Related story: Brexit Update: News of Two Unions