Great Repeal Bill: ‘biggest Westminster power grab since annexation’

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Plaid Cymru tells Westminster: ‘Hands off our Parliament’

Plaid Cymru has called the White Paper on the Great Repeal Bill, published today by the Secretary of State for Leaving the EU, ‘the biggest Westminster power grab since our annexation in 1536’.

The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP, and Wales’ member of the Brexit Select Committee Jonathan Edwards, was responding to a statement by the Secretary of State in the House of Commons and said his message to the Government from the people of Wales was ‘hands off our Parliament.’

Section 4.2 of the UK Government’s White Paper on the Great Repeal Bill states that EU responsibilities relating to devolved fields such as agriculture, environment and transport will be claimed by Westminster, making English MPs responsible for devolved Welsh matters for the first time since before devolution.

Commenting on the White Paper, Plaid Cymru’s Brexit spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards said:

“The people of Wales voted to leave the European Union and to take back control – they did not vote to allow unelected Whitehall Britocrats to grab power for themselves. Wales also voted to make our own Parliament responsible for the governance of our country in multiple devolution referenda – transferring responsibilities away from the bloated Westminster system and closer to the people of Wales.

“If this White Paper is implemented unchanged it will be the biggest Westminster power grab since our annexation in 1536. The document makes it perfectly clear the intention from Westminster to take EU responsibilities relating to areas already devolved to Wales and put them in the hands of Westminster MPs, not our directly elected National Assembly. It will make English MPs responsible for devolved Welsh matters for the first time since devolution.

“Brexit must not be used as a disguise for a Westminster power grab. The repeal process should be based on the principle of devolution by default - EU responsibilities relating to devolved matters must be passed over to the devolved administrations in full. In non-devolved policy fields where common UK-wide frameworks will be needed, these must become shared areas of competence, not exclusive matters for MPs who have no accountability to the people of Wales.

“If the interests of Wales are to be protected, Brexit will have to mean a fundamental remodelling of the British State. It is regrettable that the UK Government has failed to acknowledge this in the White Paper.

“Westminster is using the Brexit vote to roll back the ability of the UK’s member nations to govern themselves. That is not the mandate that was given to them and it is the exact opposite of the mandate achieved in the devolution referendum. Plaid Cymru will be pressing the Welsh Government to introduce its own Bill to enshrine EU law into Welsh law to protect Wales from this power grab.

“For the British Government to say they will discuss with the Welsh Government is not enough. These responsibilities rest with Wales and they are the Welsh Government’s to share and to negotiate, not for Westminster to impose. The message is simple – hands off our Parliament.”

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