Scottish and UK governments to hold fresh Brexit talks

Union flag, saltire and EU flagImage copyright Getty Images

The UK and Scottish governments are due to hold a fresh round of talks on Brexit in London.

Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Brexit minister Mike Russell will meet First Secretary of State Damian Green to discuss concerns about the EU Withdrawal Bill.

UK ministers have said it is time to "get serious" about the issues.

The Scottish government is seeking changes to the legislation for taking the UK out of the EU.

It has described the legislation as a "power grab" and has said it will not ask Holyrood to give consent to the bill in its current form[1].

The UK government has insisted that Holyrood will see "significant" new powers devolved after Brexit.

'Fresh opportunity'

However, both the Welsh and Scottish governments have objected to the idea that EU responsibilities in devolved policy areas such as agriculture should first be held at Westminster pending longer-term decisions.

The Scottish government has also been pushing for single market membership to be retained, and wants the country to remain in the European customs union.

On Sunday, Mr Russell said:"This meeting provides a fresh opportunity to set out the fundamental flaws in the bill and to encourage the UK ministers to take on board our amendments.

"This situation is easy to resolve and our amendments would, if adopted, enable the bill to go forward for the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

"If the UK government agrees to consider these amendments carefully and stops this attack on devolution, then I have no doubt we can work together to reach a sensible consensus between all governments.

"The UK government has taken a step forward in its negotiations with Brussels so it is now time for them to fully recognise the principle of devolved powers and take a step forward in their relations with the Scottish government."


What is the repeal bill?

  • Formally known as the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, the draft legislation is a key plank of the government's Brexit strategy
  • The first line of the bill says the European Communities Act 1972, which took Britain into the EU, will be "repealed on exit day"
  • This will end the supremacy of EU law and stop the flow of new regulations from Brussels
  • But all existing laws derived from the EU will continue to be in force - they can be changed or scrapped by further legislation
  • The bill does not detail policies line-by-line but transfers all regulations into domestic law
  • It gives the UK two years after Brexit to correct any "deficiencies" arising from the transfer

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Damian Green said:"'I believe that there are grounds for optimism and that we can make progress at the meeting.

"We both agree a UK approach will be required in certain areas.And there is no doubt that Holyrood will end up with more decision-making powers at the end of this process.It is now time to get serious.

"As the prime minister set out on Friday, strengthening the role of the UK Parliament and the devolved Scottish Parliament, and Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies in deciding our laws will benefit our country greatly."

He added:"The UK government's priority is providing continuity and certainty, so not to damage our hugely beneficial internal market and not to burden businesses with extra barriers to trade.We know that this is what people and businesses in Scotland want.

"EU law intersects with devolved competence at Holyrood in 111 policy areas.

"We need to start working through this list of areas with the Scottish government in a serious manner to determine what areas will require a UK approach, and where different practices will be acceptable."...

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Andy Burnham: Labour conference is too London-centric

Andy Burnham footballImage copyright PA Image caption Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan played in a conference football match against the press - but the mayor of Greater Manchester will not be speaking from the Brighton main stage

The Labour mayor of Greater Manchester has criticised his "London-centric" party for not giving its political leaders from the north of England speaking slots at conference.

Andy Burnham said he was disappointed at the lack of "prominent northern voice" to "balance" London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has been invited to speak.

Jeremy Corbyn wants to "rebalance" the conference in favour of members.

The annual party get-together is under way in Brighton.

Having won the Greater Manchester mayoral election in May, Mr Burnham is one of Labour's most powerful elected politicians.But he will not be speaking from the stage in Brighton.

'This is institutional'

He told the BBC's Sunday Politics:"It is not about me having a divine right to speak at conference.

"But it disappoints me that there is no prominent northern voice from one of the cities speaking to balance Sadiq Khan."

He added:"This is not a Jeremy criticism.This is institutional.The party is too London-centric.

"It isn't thinking enough about getting a strong message to voters in the North.

"What troubles me a little is that we have got the mayor of London speaking but not the mayor of Liverpool city region, Steve Rotheram.Not the leader of Newcastle City Council, Nick Forbes.

"Why haven't we got balance here?What does it say about the party's commitment to devolution?

"It could suggest that it's half-hearted.I would say to them 'Let's not do this again'."

Defending the arrangements in an interview with BBC North West Tonight on Friday, Mr Corbyn said:"I want to make sure that delegates have more time to speak than in the past and so we've reduced the number of platform speakers and reduced the time for platform speakers, including shadow cabinet members.

"I can't say any of them are very happy about it but it has to be done if we're to rebalance our conference.

"And I want to make sure there is a big voice for local government."

Fees debate

Meanwhile, some MPs were denied access to the auditorium floor in favour of rank and file delegates in what BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said was another sign of the changing nature of Labour's conference.

MPs used to have reserved seating in their own "pen", he said.

Labour sources said when the floor was full all non-voting delegates had to sit in the balcony areas.

In his Sunday Politics interview, Mr Burnham also questioned Labour's flagship pledge to scrap university tuition fees in England.

"I just question is that the fairest way to spend money, to give it all to university students who may go on to a more middle class lifestyle and earnings?

"I would say;what about 16 to 18 year-olds who lost their education maintenance allowance?

"What about those kids on the apprenticeship wage?What about technical education?"...

References

  1. ^ Corbyn pushes back on EU single market (www.bbc.co.uk)

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Dugdale gave deputy '10 minutes' notice' she was quitting

Alex Rowley Image caption Mr Rowley said very few people knew that Kezia Dugdale was going to resign

Scottish Labour's interim leader Alex Rowley has revealed that Kezia Dugdale only gave him a few minutes' notice that she was quitting as party leader.

Ms Dugdale announced she was standing down last month[1] and a contest is ongoing to elect her successor.

Mr Rowley was Ms Dugdale's deputy at the time.

He told the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland:"I didn't know that Kezia Dugdale was going to resign up until 10-15 minutes before she announced it."

He added:I think very few people knew but that was Kezia's decision, a decision that she wanted to make.

"We now need to move forward.We owe Kez a debt of gratitude for all the work that she's done over these last two years."

The leadership contest is between Anas Sarwar, Labour's health spokesman at Holyrood, and left wing MSP Richard Leonard.

Image caption Kezia Dugdale served as the leader of Scottish Labour for two-and-a-half years

During the interview, Mr Rowley was also asked if he had set up Mr Sarwar during First Minister's Questions last week.

In Holyrood on Thursday, while talking about poverty, Mr Rowley said the SNP stood for "the millionaires, not the millions", which led to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launching an attack on Mr Sarwar[2].

Mr Sarwar had previously denied being "one of the few" as he defended his family's firm over its failure to pay the real living wage to all staff.He has since relinquished all his shares in his family's wholesale business[3].The Glasgow MSP has also faced questions over his decision to send his children to a private school in the city.

In his response on Sunday Politics Scotland, Mr Rowley - who is attending the Labour Party Conference in Brighton - said:"I'm going to continue to make the case for the many, not the few.I'm going to continue to make the case that we need to address the unacceptable levels of poverty that exist in Scotland.

"I haven't come out for any candidate.I've remained neutral.I have one vote the same as every other party member.The Labour party members will decide who they want to put in as our next leader."

The result of the leadership contest will be announced in mid-November....

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Mr Rowley denied setting up Anas Sarwar during First Minister's Questions

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