Meddling Lords call for unity between UK nations as Brexit act ‘damaged relations’

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The UK Internal Market Bill was designed as a solution by ministers to creating a secure platform for UK trade after Britain fully cut ties with the EU. It also saw measures which were previously managed by the EU return to the UK.

Around 160 policy areas including animal welfare, public procurement rules and environmental regulations will go to one or more of the devolved administrations.

But concerns were raised that the new legislation, passed in December, would constrain the devolved parliament’s powers with the Welsh Senedd and Holyrood both refusing legal consent for the bill.

The two devolved parliament’s decisions were both overruled by Westminster.

Now a report by the House of Lords Common Frameworks Scrutiny Committee claims Brexit “damaged relations” between the devolved governments.

The report also claims Brexit has put “significant strain” on the relationships and called for “intergovernmental relations” to be reset.

The unelected peers also suggested the House of Lords act as a neutral forum which would encourage devolved administrations to work together.

Baroness Andrews, chair of the Common Frameworks Scrutiny Committee said the relationships between the UK Government and devolved administrations were “severely strained”.

She added: “We believe that the collaborative approach of common frameworks should be used as a model to reset UK intergovernmental relations and build a co-operative Union.”

Baroness Andrews continued: “Common frameworks are a crucial legacy of leaving the EU that has too often been overlooked.

“They create the processes necessary for day-to-day co-operation across the UK in areas such as food safety, farming and the environment.

“During the committee’s inquiry, we found widespread support for common frameworks across sectors and in every part of the UK.

“However, the UK Internal Market Act has clearly damaged relations with the devolved administrations and could severely compromise the common frameworks programme.

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“We also have concerns about transparency and how the frameworks will relate to the Northern Ireland Protocol.”

It comes after ministers for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland joined forces to demand an urgent meeting with Treasury bosses, as they accused the UK Government of bypassing the devolved governments.

The call came after talks between Scottish public finance minister Ivan McKee, and the finance ministers in Northern Ireland and Wales, Conor Murphy and Rebecca Evans.

In a joint statement, the trio sought to highlight their “shared concerns about the UK Government’s decision to bypass democratically agreed devolution arrangements” by funding projects in their nations under the Levelling Up scheme and Community Renewal Funds.

Mr McKee, Mr Murphy and Ms Evans insisted that money to replace cash from European Union (EU) funds should be “allocated in full” by their devolved Governments.

A UK Government spokeswoman said: “Scotland has two governments, and it is absolutely right that the UK Government invests directly in Scotland.

“We will be working with local authorities, who know their communities well.

“People in Scotland can expect significant direct UK Government investment in their communities in the coming months and years.”

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