Monday, 31 October 2016 18:00

CROSS-PARTY call for Brexit committee focus on devolved nations

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A cross-party group of MPs have written to Hilary Benn, Chair of the House of Commons Committee on Exiting the EU, calling on him to ensure the Committee has a comprehensive focus on the wishes and interests of the devolved nations in its scrutiny of the UK government’s Brexit negotiations.

The letter sent today (Monday) by the Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish members of the committee comes ahead of its first meeting on Wednesday.

In the letter, the MPs call for evidence sessions to be held in each of the devolved nations, for the committee’s agenda to be fully inclusive of the wishes and interests of the devolved nations, and to ensure full scrutiny of how Prime Minister Theresa May is implementing her commitment to involve the devolved administrations in the negotiations.

Commenting Joanna Cherry QC MP, the SNP’s Justice and Home Affairs spokesperson – and a member of the Committee on Exiting the EU – said:

“Scotland voted by an overwhelming majority to remain in the EU and we expect to be treated as an equal partner in the UK’s negotiations.

“The devolved administrations must be fully involved in the negotiations with the EU, and the discussions that inform the UK’s negotiating position - to ensure that our voice is heard and our distinct interests are represented.

“It is important that the Committee has a comprehensive focus on the wishes and interests of the devolved nations, and ensures full scrutiny of how Theresa May is implementing her commitment to involve the devolved administrations in the negotiations.

“With the UK government intent on dragging Scotland out of the EU against our will, and with all the signs suggesting we are being taken towards a right-wing hard Brexit, with all the damage it would do to our economy and society – the SNP will continue to do everything we can to protect Scotland’s relationship with Europe.”

Full text of the Letter to Hilary Benn:

Dear Hilary,

We write to you in advance of the first meeting of the Select Committee on Exiting the EU.

As you will be aware, the Prime Minister has committed to including the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the discussions that will inform the UK's negotiating position with the EU.

We welcome this commitment and the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have made clear that they will engage constructively and in good faith to try and ensure that our distinct interests are represented.

While the devolved administrations may take different views on specific issues, we believe that there is a common interest in ensuring that the UK Government makes good on their commitment to engage the devolved administrations and legislatures, and considers seriously the constructive suggestions and views that will be forthcoming from the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Committee on Exiting the EU will be crucial to ensuring that there is scrutiny of how the Prime Minister is implementing her commitment to involve the devolved administrations and of the discussions that she has with them.

We therefore write to you to ask you to ensure that the new Committee will examine these important issues, including by holding evidence sessions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

We look forward to hearing from you in due course.

With best wishes.

Yours sincerely,

Joanna Cherry QC MP (SNP)
Peter Grant MP (SNP)
Jonathan Edwards MP (Plaid Cymru)
Sammy Wilson MP (DUP)
Mark Durkan MP (SDLP)

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