Joint Ministerial Committee
Commitment needed to protect devolution.
At today’s Joint Ministerial Committee (Plenary) meeting, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called on the Prime Minister to recognise and respect the founding principles of devolution and make further amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill.
The meeting also discussed the UK’s approach to securing a transition agreement at the March European Council and the beginning of the next phase of Brexit negotiations.
Ministers also received briefing on security issues arising from the current situation with Russia.
Speaking after the meeting at Downing Street, the First Minister said:
“Following the Prime Minister’s statement on Russia, today’s Joint Ministerial Committee was a timely opportunity to discuss the issue directly.
"We were united in condemnation of Russia’s actions and I expressed my support for the initial steps that the Prime Minister has outlined. As legislation is brought forward we will scrutinise that carefully, but it is very clear that Russia cannot be permitted to unlawfully kill, or attempt to kill people, on the streets of the UK with impunity.
“On Brexit, I set out Scotland’s clear position that membership of the single market and the customs union would be the least damaging future relationship with the European Union and my very real concerns that the approach the Prime Minister has set out will not be acceptable to the European Union.
“In particular Scotland’s financial services sector and our fisheries industry appear to be at risk as a result of the PM’s approach and I have made clear that it will not be acceptable to sacrifice key Scottish industries in pursuit of a reckless Brexit ideology.
“We did not reach agreement on the withdrawal bill today but there was not an expectation that we would.
“The Scottish and Welsh Governments have made clear that there is a very important issue of principle at stake and we cannot and will not recommend approval of a bill that would undermine devolution by restricting our powers, even temporarily, without the consent of our Parliaments.
“We have already compromised by accepting that some powers could be used to agree frameworks on a UK wide basis – however, this must be subject to the consent of the devolved nations.
“While agreement was not reached today, all administrations expressed a desire to find agreement and a determination to continue joint work towards one.
“The issues that remain to be resolved involve important issues of principle, which means that they are not insignificant - however, with political will and respect for the principles of devolution, nor should they be insurmountable.”