Members of the Senedd in Cardiff Bay have voted to reject the UK Government’s keystone piece of Brexit legislation.
The Internal Market Bill would mean that if a product meets the standards of one part of the UK in can be sold in all the nations of the UK even if that area has higher standards.
This means that is Wales had higher food standards than England it would not prevent people selling at the lower in English standards here in Wales. The bill has been labelled “a hollowing out the devolution settlements”.
MSs voted 36 to 15 against the bill, which has also been condemned by members of the House of Lords who have twice tried to amend the bill. It follows similar votes in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Speaking in the Senedd Alun Davies MS said: “This is one of the most dishonest and destructive pieces of legislation that I’ve had the misfortune to read in my time in politics.”
He added: “This isn’t about the single market, it isn’t about business, it isn’t about Brexit, it isn’t about UK investment; it is about one thing and one thing alone, it is about the imposition of political power to undermine Welsh democracy. That is what this Bill is about, and that is what this Bill seeks to achieve.”
Independent crossbench peer Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd has tabled an amendment to the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill seeking to block a Government bid to finance economic development from Whitehall after the loss of EU structural funding.
The former lord chief justice told the Lords: “It would effectively be saying we don’t trust the people of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to elect governments to spend wisely in the devolved fields.”
He added: “The clause, without the amendment I seek to move, would enable the UK Government to spend in devolved fields and bypass the devolved governments and parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who have been elected to be responsible for those fields.
“It is in effect hollowing out the devolution settlements.”
The UK Government has said it is “disappointed” in the vote
A UK Government spokesperson said: “Today’s outcome in the Welsh Parliament is disappointing.
“In conversations with businesses small and large across Wales, they have agreed that seamless trade across the UK is important for the Welsh economy to thrive. Around 75 per cent of Welsh exports go to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland and the UK Internal Market Bill will protect Welsh businesses and jobs by ensuring this unhindered trade continues.
“We urge the UK’s devolved administrations to support this vital Bill.”