Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Labour and Lib Dem parties in Scotland support the Holyrood SNP government opposition to the Westminster devolution power grab

It is a huge mistake for the Welsh government and the Welsh Labour Party to have succumbed so meekly at the end.

For too long and too often Welsh Labour and other politicians in Wales have been far too eager to fall into line with the Westminster/Whitehall establishment.

The yoke of subservience and the imperial past endures. A failure of understanding and appreciation of the implications of what it means to be a Land and nation. 


The EU (Withdrawal) Bill’s devolution clauses are substantial. Seemingly, they describe an interim process, but when reviewed alongside the considerable powers given to UK ministers generally, the passages cause discomfort, if not alarm, in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
A successful Brexit settlement cannot be constructed by the UK government alone, demanding a partnership approach in negotiations with the devolved administrations.

The constitutional and political consequences of not doing so would indeed be serious and damaging for future relations. In this context, the Sewel Convention has some part to play, particularly as the UK is not underpinned by a written constitution assigning powers evidently to different tiers of government.  Sewel presumes that Westminster should not legislate on devolved matters without consent,

These aims to my mind are not capable of achievement unless a very specific mechanism is created to serve them. At the moment the government maintains that the Joint Ministerial Committee adequately performs this task. The fact that it meets so seldom, produces no agenda or minutes reveal it to be the empty talking shop that it was intended to be.

Devolution should never be seen as an end in itself. It is true that it is a progressive and ameliorative concept that brings about the reality of the principle of subsidiarity. There is however a dimension beyond devolution and that is Home Rule, namely the recognition of the constitutional and moral right of a Nation community to self determination. Whereas in relation to devolution, its beneficiaries can always say ‘’thank you, bless you carry on with the good work’’ in the context of Home Rule the relevant and seminal question is ‘’what have you withheld’’.

With the ongoing devolution deficit and Brexit negotiations, there is an absolute need for a UK -wide Constitutional Convention, involving all political parties and elements of British society, to discuss the future of the Union within a framework of mutual respect and unanimity, promoting a real partnership of equals across the isles.


The economy of Wales is decidedly reliant on membership of the EU single market, especially the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. Wales is a substantial net beneficiary of EU funding and two-thirds of its exports and over 30% of services sent to Europe annually. Also, the single market has been a key driver of foreign investment for decades. There is a real risk that vital matters concerning Wales could be neglected during the latter stages of the EU withdrawal negotiations.

That is why it is concerning that an agreement has apparently been reached between the Welsh and Westminster governments over the retention by Westminster for seven years of 24 delegated powers that are already devolved, to enable common frameworks across the UK to be developed. Of course there are inherent dangers in such a settlement not the least of which is the potential for the Westminster government to extend the period beyond seven years.

That is why the UK needs statutory intergovernmental frameworks to resolve differences and ensure the opinions of every devolved parliament is heard in areas of common. Such a structured statutory body would be charged with day to day monitoring of Brexit upon the countries concerned. A homogenous approach as advocated by the Prime Minister is a sham and a nonsense which can very well betray the individual needs of the devolved authorities.

Indeed as we further progress over the next few years fundamental reform is essential in ensuring a greater formal role for the devolved administrations within UK decision-making post-Brexit, analogous to that offered by federal or confederal systems of governance.