A senior Welsh Assembly Member (AM) has claimed the UK will break up if the Government does not ditch its agricultural ‘power grab’ in the EU Withdrawal Bill.
David Rees, chairman of the External Affairs Committee which deals with Brexit in the Welsh Assembly, made the remarks at a Policy Forum for Wales event in Cardiff this week.
The Scottish and Welsh Governments have threatened to withhold consent for the EU Withdrawal Bill because of a clause which would prevent the devolved regions from passing new laws in areas which were previously the EU’s responsibility, such as agriculture.
Mr Rees said: “If the current EU Withdrawal Bill is not amended at any point, the Welsh Government will not accept it, and we agree with this position.
“What then happens is a very big question. Will the House of Lords look very carefully at this and come to a point where they want to avoid a constitutional crisis, because that is what it will create, or will the constitutional crisis happen?
“I think less so in Wales, more in Scotland, if Scotland votes no and the UK Government overrides them, what they will say to the people of Scotland is ’we have done it their way, they have ignored us, now let us do it our way’, and we will see the break-up of the UK.
“That is what will happen if we do not get this right.”
Mr Rees’ comments came shortly after Scottish and Welsh Government amendments to the Bill were defeated in the House of Commons.
Voting down opposition amendments, however, may just be a way for the Government to avoid humiliation as it is said to be planning its own re-write of the controversial clause.
According to reports, Brexit Secretary David Davis has privately admitted the Bill will need to be changed after intense lobbying from Scottish and Welsh Conservatives concerned about its impact on the devolution settlement.
The Government amendments are unlikely to be debated until the Bill reaches the next stage of debate – report stage – because the details are still being hammered out.
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