Brexit minister urges UK Government to strengthen dialogue with devolved nations
Mike Russell said it was “essential” for all governments to be fully involved in the run up to the next round of talks.
Scotland’s Brexit Minister has called on the UK Government to step up its dialogue with the devolved nations ahead of the next phase of negotiations.
Mike Russell has written to Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, urging him to work more closely with the devolved administrations before the crucial talks.
The Scottish Government said it was seeking assurances on the “meaningful participation of devolved governments in agreeing UK positions” as well as the urgent reconvening of the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations.
The letter follows the publication of a Scottish Government study last week that warned a no-deal Brexit could cost Scotland’s economy £12.7bn a year.
Mr Russell’s letter said: “I am sure that you will agree that as the UK embarks on a second phase of negotiations with the EU, it is crucial that the UK Government and the devolved governments work closely together to achieve the best possible outcome.
“We understand that the UK Government is to set out its approach to the second phase of negotiations in mid-February.
“I would be grateful, therefore, if you could share further detail on how the UK Government is reaching agreement on its desired end state relationship with the EU, and when devolved administrations can expect to have an opportunity to participate in and influence the outcome of that discussion.”
The Brexit minister called for clarity on key dates in the negotiations and for an urgent meeting of the committee, which brings together the UK Government and devolved administrations.
He warned of a “serious risk that the important activity to agree joint working arrangements going forward will not be complete until after the UK has established its position on the end state relationship” a position he said was “not acceptable”.
He added: “Whilst the joint agreement reached by the UK Government and EU in December was a welcome step forward, it is clear that the next phase of these negotiations will be significantly tougher than the first.
“It is essential that all Governments across the UK are fully involved in preparing for and delivering progress.”
A government spokeswoman said there had been “extensive and important talks with the devolved administrations in the process of planning the UK’s departure from the EU”.
She added: “We have been making good progress to agree common frameworks and are looking to make significant further steps in the coming weeks and months.
“We also expect there to be an increase in the decision making powers of the Scottish government and other devolved administrations following this process.”