Differences between PM and Welsh First Minister over Brexit 'not irreconcilable'

Michelle O'Neill
Michelle O'Neill

Differences between Theresa May and Carwyn Jones over Brexit are "not irreconcilable", a spokesman for the Welsh Government said as the Prime Minister held talks with leaders from across the UK.

But Scotland's Brexit Minister Mike Russell said they were not "anywhere close" to a joint position with the UK Government and accused Mrs May of failing to involve the devolved administrations in decisions.

Prime Minister Theresa May chairs a Joint Ministerial Committee at Cardiff City Hall.

Prime Minister Theresa May chairs a Joint Ministerial Committee at Cardiff City Hall.

The Prime Minister made it clear ahead of the talks in Cardiff that the devolved administrations will not be given a decisive role in the UK's divorce from the European Union.

She said she hoped the meeting would be constructive but warned they "will not agree on everything" and highlighted how the Supreme Court ruling on triggering Article 50 had set out "beyond doubt" that relations with Brussels would be determined by the UK Government.

In talks with Mrs May, First Minister Mr Jones discussed the plans for Brexit and his demands for full single market access.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "The First Minister welcomed a firm commitment from the PM that Brexit would not be used as cover for a 'land grab' on devolved powers.

"There was further discussion about full single market access, and its vital importance to the Welsh economy. The positions are not identical, but not irreconcilable at this stage."

Bur Mr Russell said "we haven't got anywhere close to" a joint position between the UK Government and the devolved administrations.

"The decisions that are being made are being made without reference to the devolved nations and to that structure," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

He said the "obsession" with immigration was "driving the UK Government into a very dangerous place" as he set out demands for Scotland to remain within the single market and its freedom of movement rules.

Scotland's First Minister warned Mrs May that she must take proposals from the devolved administrations seriously at the meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) in Cardiff.

Nicola Sturgeon said: "Time is running out for the Prime Minister to demonstrate that she is going to uphold the commitment she made to me shortly after taking office that Scotland will be fully involved in discussions to develop an agreed UK approach and listen to alternative proposals for Scotland."

The calls for alternative settlements for the devolved administrations were on the agenda for the meeting.

It is also expected to focus on ways to help UK businesses to trade and invest in the run-up to Brexit.

Ahead of the meeting, Mrs May said: "The United Kingdom voted to leave the EU, and the UK Government has a responsibility to deliver on that mandate and secure the right deal for the whole of the UK.

"We all have a part to play in providing certainty and leadership so that together we can make a success of the opportunities ahead."