Theresa May’s government has cancelled Brexit talks with senior politicians from Scotland and Wales. But the news seems to have surprised no one.
SNP strategist Ross Colquhoun summed things up in just a couple of tweets:
2016: Tories will listen to the devolved administrations – they didn't
2017: Tories will listen to the devolved administrations – they didn't
2018: Tories will listen to the devolved administrations – they didn't
2019: Tories will listen to the devolved administrations – 😑 https://t.co/VQImgzQwzX
— Ross Colquhoun (@rosscolquhoun) January 21, 2019
— Ross Colquhoun (@rosscolquhoun) January 22, 2019
In May’s statement to parliament on 21 January, she promised to consult with the devolved administrations on Brexit going forward. The cancellation just a day after the statement, however, doesn’t appear to be a very “flexible, open and inclusive” approach.
Nicola Sturgeon was “very sceptical”
As the National reported, the Scottish government’s external affairs secretary, Fiona Hyslop, told MSPs that a Joint Ministerial Committee meeting scheduled for Thursday 24 January would not be taking place. Hyslop said this “flies in the face of the Prime Minister’s rhetoric”.
Just the previous day, May said she was:
Committed to giving the devolved administrations an enhanced role in the next phase, respecting their competence and vital interest in these negotiations.
And most noteworthy, she insisted that she was negotiating “for the whole of the UK”.
At the announcement of May’s more ‘cooperative approach’ to Brexit, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted saying she was “very sceptical”:
Fair to say we’ve had empty and undelivered promises like this for two and half years now – will be interested to hear what’s going to be different now, but experience tells me to be very sceptical. https://t.co/nd5fOc15MG
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) January 21, 2019
Both the Scottish and Welsh governments were due to have a more “enhanced role” in the Brexit process.
But the Belfast Telegraph reported, a UK government cabinet office spokesperson said:
Diary pressures mean that we are not going to be able to do that on Thursday as was planned. Both the Scottish Government and Welsh Government have been notified about that.
They continued by saying:
The Prime Minister has made the offer to the Scottish and Welsh first ministers to meet with her this week.
Devolved administrations and Brexit
The Brexit process has been somewhat of a challenge for the devolved administrations. The prime minister has constantly said the views of Scotland and Wales are important. But she ignored Scotland’s Remain vote in the EU referendum in 2016. And her government dismissed votes taken by both the Welsh and Scottish governments over the UK’s Withdrawal Bill. It has also faced accusations of a ‘power grab’ of powers that should be devolved to Edinburgh and Cardiff post-Brexit.
Scotland and Wales are watching carefully. And they will continue to take notice of how this Conservative government shows them nothing but contempt.
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