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Devolved administrations demand greater say in Brexit talks

Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish ministers issued a joint statement to the UK Government following talks in London.

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The UK officially left the EU on January 31 and now has until December 31 to finalise their future relationship (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The UK officially left the EU on January 31 and now has until December 31 to finalise their future relationship (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The UK officially left the EU on January 31 and now has until December 31 to finalise their future relationship (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The UK Government has been urged to implement a “meaningful, comprehensive and transparent process” for the devolved administrations to influence Brexit talks.

A joint statement aimed at Downing Street was issued following a meeting in London.

It was attended by Scotland’s Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell and Europe minister Jenny Gilruth, her Welsh counterpart Jeremy Miles, Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster and her deputy Michelle O’Neill.

They said they had not been given the role they hoped for in the first round of talks.

With the next round of discussions with the EU taking place next week, the devolved administrations called on Westminster to listen to the needs and interests of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The statement said: “Before the next round of negotiations later this month we agreed there must be a meaningful, comprehensive and transparent process for the devolved Governments to influence the UK’s negotiating position – something that has clearly not happened so far.

“These negotiations will have significant and long-lasting impacts on people, communities and businesses and the Devolved Governments have a particular responsibility for ensuring the interests of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are protected and promoted.

“Each of our Governments have particular concerns and these must be taken seriously with the opportunity to directly influence the UK negotiating position.”

It added: “With the next round of negotiations just eight days away there is an urgent need for meaningful and constructive engagement by the UK Government at all levels on this issue – with proper opportunities to help decide the UK’s position in the most significant negotiations in decades.”

The UK officially left the EU on January 31 and now has until December 31 to finalise the future relationship with the bloc.

The statement represents the second time this year the devolved legislatures have voiced their discontent in unison at the Brexit process after all three rejected a legislative consent motion (LCM) for the Prime Minister’s exit deal.

An LCM, however, is not binding – meaning the UK Government was able to continue with its deal and leave the EU on January 31.

A UK government spokeswoman said: “We are committed to working closely with the devolved administrations throughout negotiations with the EU to ensure we build a future relationship that works in the interests of the whole of the UK.

“UK government ministers and officials have been in regular contact with their counterparts in the devolved administrations throughout the process and we will continue to do so as negotiations continue.”

PA