Devolved Administrations: Talks

Exiting the European Union – in the House of Commons on 28th February 2019.

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Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Scottish National Party, Linlithgow and East Falkirk

What recent discussions he has had with the devolved Administrations on the UK leaving the EU.

Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows SNP Whip, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Small Business, Enterprise and Innovation)

What recent discussions he has had with the devolved Administrations on the UK leaving the EU.

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

On Monday I co-chaired the eighth ministerial EU negotiations forum in Cardiff. During the meeting, Jeremy Miles from the Welsh Government, Graeme Dey from the Scottish Government and I discussed the issue of data in the context of our future relationship with the EU, which I know is very important to the devolved Administrations in the discharge of their responsibilities. In addition, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State attends the Joint Ministerial Committee (EU negotiations), and, indeed, did so on his first day in office.

Photo of Angela Crawley Angela Crawley Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Disabilities), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Pensions), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Youth affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Children and Families), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Equalities)

Does the Minister agree with the submissions made more than two years ago by the devolved Administrations, and confirmed by more recent analysis by his own Government, that staying in the single market and the customs union would be the best outcome for the whole UK economy?

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

We have, of course, taken careful note of the submissions from the devolved Administrations, but we have Governments led by different parties with different political positions. We discuss that regularly in the ministerial forum. What we need to do is work together to ensure that our approach works for the whole UK, and that is what we will continue to do, recognising the differences of opinion that exist between the respective Governments.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Scottish National Party, Linlithgow and East Falkirk

Will the Government now admit that if they had engaged properly with the devolved Administrations two years ago and had meaningful discussions with the Scottish Government about their—the Scottish Government’s—paper “Scotland’s Place in Europe”, they would not now be in the position of having to blackmail the House into choosing between a bad deal and no deal?

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

We have engaged on those papers, and we have had a range of meaningful discussions over the years, in many of which I have been personally involved. However, we respect the fact that we will take politically different positions on some of these issues. The UK Government believe that they must discharge their responsibility for the UK to leave the EU, and the Scottish Government do not agree with that. Nevertheless, we will continue to work together to find the best approach to these challenges.

Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows SNP Whip, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Small Business, Enterprise and Innovation)

Given that the shadow Secretary of State for Scotland has supported a differentiated deal for Scotland in the event that Scotland is removed from the single market by the UK, and given that the Government support a differentiated deal for Northern Ireland, will the Secretary of State confirm that a similar option would be possible for Scotland?

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

The circumstances of Northern Ireland, with the UK’s only land border with the EU, are different in that respect, but more importantly the deal we have negotiated is for the whole of the UK, and it is vital that we recognise that it was a UK-wide referendum and therefore we should deliver on that deal for the whole of the United Kingdom.

Photo of David Davies David Davies Chair, Welsh Affairs Committee

When my hon. Friend meets Members of the Welsh Assembly does he remind them that the people of Wales voted for Brexit with far greater enthusiasm than they voted for a Welsh Assembly? Will he urge them, along with some of the more recalcitrant members of the Cabinet, to get behind the Prime Minister and deliver Britain out of the EU with or without a deal by the end of March?

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

My hon. Friend makes his point with his usual force and power, and of course he is absolutely right that Wales did vote to leave the EU. I have indeed in Select Committee sessions at the Welsh Assembly reminded some Assembly Members of that, but the Welsh Government have engaged constructively with us in the ministerial forums and we will continue to work with them to deliver an outcome that works for the whole of the UK.

Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb Conservative, Preseli Pembrokeshire

Last week the Government announced a new fund to help local authorities with ports to manage Brexit. It appears that the fund covers only England, and in Wales the Welsh Government provide no such dedicated ports assistance. Will the Minister please raise this with Welsh Ministers, because information provided by my local authority in Pembrokeshire, with its ferry connections to Ireland, suggest that my county is not getting the assistance it needs?

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

My right hon. Friend as always is a champion for his county, and may I in advance wish him a happy St David’s Day? I will certainly be happy to take this up with colleagues in the Welsh Government, and I know that my ministerial colleague my hon. Friend Chris Heaton-Harris, who is in charge of no-deal preparations, will be looking at that in our overall approach to ports.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

May I remind my hon. Friend that devolved administrations need not only be the nations of the United Kingdom? They could also include the combined authorities, including the one in the west midlands.

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point, and I know my hon. Friend Kwasi Kwarteng sitting beside me on the Treasury Bench has engaged in some very useful discussions with the combined authorities, including Andy Street.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

I have had correspondence from one of my companies, Clandeboye Yoghurt, and had a second meeting last Friday with another of my companies, Lakeland Dairies, both of them concerned about packaging. The issue is clear: the packaging needs to be in order before 12 March—another D-day—so the products are ready to leave on 29 March. They have been in touch with the Northern Ireland devolved Administration Department—the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs—and the Department here; can we have some idea of what is happening?

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

I will be very happy to take that issue up on behalf of the hon. Gentleman with the relevant Departments—the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for International Trade—and make sure that they are engaging with the Northern Ireland civil service.