Brexit talks: Chance for Wales and UK to ‘reset relationship’

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A meeting to discuss Brexit is a chance to “reset the relationship” with the UK government, the Welsh Government has said.

On Monday, Damian Green, the prime minister’s deputy, will meet First Minister Carwyn Jones to discuss issues surrounding leaving the European Union.

Mr Jones had accused Westminster of a “power grab” over plans to turn EU law into British law post-Brexit.

Ahead of the visit, Mr Green said he was confident progress could be made.

Relations between the two administrations have been strained, with the UK government warning Mr Jones not to “undermine Brexit talks” as he has accused them of trying to take power back from Cardiff Bay.

There have also been concerns that a joint ministerial committee (JMC) – for the Scottish, Welsh, UK and Northern Ireland governments to seek a UK-wide approach to Brexit – has not met in six months.

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Mr Jones has raised concerns that the JMC – meant to meet monthly – has not met in six months

It is hoped Monday’s meeting, which will be the first time Mr Jones has met with the first secretary, will go some way to addressing concerns about the repeal bill – also known as the European Union (Withdrawal Bill) – which will be debated by MPs on Thursday.

It aims to ensure the rules currently set by European law still apply in the UK after Brexit, while giving the UK Parliament power to change them.

But Mr Jones and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have threatened to block the bill, saying it does not return powers to devolved administrations as promised – rather returning them “solely to the UK government and parliament” – and imposes new restrictions on Scotland and Wales.

In July, the pair condemned the bill in a joint statement, saying it was “an attack on the founding principles of devolution and could destabilise our economies”.

Mr Jones has said he would produce his own legislation, in the form of a Continuity Bill, if he felt the Westminster legislation threatened the powers of the assembly.

Ahead of the meeting, a spokesman for Mr Jones said: “The first minister is hoping this is an opportunity to reset the relationship with the UK government and develop a better way of working together on a range of areas, but with particular relevance to Brexit and the EU Withdrawal Bill.”

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Damian Green is one of Theresa May’s key cabinet allies

Mr Green said: “This is about ensuring we are ready for leaving the EU. The UK single market is one of our biggest assets, ensuring different parts of the UK can trade easily with each other.

“The Welsh Government agree that we will need a UK-wide approach in certain areas to maintain the benefits of the UK market.

“The UK government has a strong record on devolving powers to Wales and we have said repeatedly that Wales will likely end up having more powers at the end of this process.

“I am confident that we can make progress through these talks. I want us to agree on a way to take things forward and I believe that should be readily achievable.”

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