The Government’s involving of the devolved administrations in its Brexit negotiations is welcome but does not go far enough, Open Britain spokespeople from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland say today.
On a visit to Edinburgh in July, Theresa May said: “I won’t be triggering Article 50 until I think that we have a UK approach and objectives for negotiations. I think it is important that we establish that before we trigger Article 50.” However, a timetable for Article 50 was announced unilaterally by the UK Government at Conservative Party Conference.
Ahead of the summit being held at Downing Street today this pledge appears to have been watered down to merely an offer of a “direct line” between the devolved administrations and the Department for Exiting the European Union, with no concrete guarantees that their concerns will be acted upon before Article 50 is triggered.
The concerns of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish administrations must be taken seriously in the Brexit process, and their particular concerns must be taken into account when shaping the governments negotiating strategy.
It is vital that the Government publishes its objectives and allows a parliamentary debate and vote on them before Article 50 is triggered, and that they reflect the concerns of the devolved administrations.
Commenting, John Edward, Open Britain spokesman in Scotland, said:
“The Government’s commitment to open dialogue with the devolved administrations is welcome but those words must be matched by actions.
“A genuine UK-wide approach to the upcoming negotiations means ensuring Scotland has a role in shaping the objectives for them, not just being consulted after they have been decided behind closed doors in Whitehall.”
Stephen Kinnock MP, supporter of the Open Britain campaign, said:
“These negotiations will affect every part of the United Kingdom and it would be concerning if Wales and the other devolved administrations were downgraded from the role of full participant to partial consultant.
“The Government should ensure a full part for all the nations of the UK as part of an open Brexit process which should also involve bringing their negotiating principles to Parliament for debate and a vote before Article 50 is triggered.”
Conor McGinn MP, supporter of the Open Britain campaign, said:
“Given the particular challenges posed by Brexit in Northern Ireland, it would be unacceptable for the devolved administration not to have a key role in helping to shape the UK’s negotiating stance.
“The UK Government should also work closely with the Irish Government to ensure there is no negative impact on British-Irish and North-South relations.
“A more transparent and consensual approach is required if we are to finish these negotiations with a deal that works for every part of the UK.”
Theresa May’s remarks in Edinburgh in July are reported here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/15/theresa-may-flies-to-edinburgh-to-tell-scots-that-she-believes-w/