Devolved administrations are being kept in the dark over Brexit negotiations

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Posted by Geoff Bishop.

Written by Roxanne Sorooshian.

FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has accused the UK Government of keeping devolved administrations “substantially in the dark” over Brexit negotiations with the EU.

The SNP leader made the comments ahead of the first day of the 29th British-Irish Council Summit on Jersey, and as David Davis and the Tory Brexit department continued the sixth round of talks in Brussels.

Sturgeon said the London Goverment had not honoured repeated assurances to share information on the progress of the negotiations, and that there was an urgent need for information on transition arrangements for issues such as agriculture and fisheries.

Yesterday was the halfway point for Brexit – 505 days since the referendum and 505 days until Britain formally leaves the EU.

The First Minister said: “In less than 18 months’ time, the UK will be leaving the EU – but despite reassurances that all devolved administrations will be consulted on the withdrawal negotiations, we remain substantially in the dark.

“The UK Government assured us that the joint ministerial committee would seek to agree UK positions and discuss issues stemming from the negotiations, respecting the devolved competencies– but the UK Government then allowed that process to fall short of what is required, with only one meeting of the joint ministerial committee in October since EU negotiations began on June 19.

“We remain cut out of decisions on key issues and the impact the UK Government believes Brexit will have on Scotland and our economy.

“This is not an abstract debate about process. Leaving the EU will have an enormous impact on Scottish jobs, our economy and our relationship with the world – indeed, Brexit’s effects are already being felt. We know from businesses in Scotland that a hard Brexit will cause serious and long term economic damage and it is crucial we stay in the Single Market and customs union.

“As has previously been said, the clock is ticking on Brexit and it is essential that the UK Government live up to its promises to give devolved administrations a genuine role on what is by far the most important issue facing every corner of these islands.”

In Brussels, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has called on the UK to make clear whether it will stick with the “European model” on issues like food and environmental standards and financial regulation when it leaves.

Barnier’s comments came after US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross suggested the UK could get a better transatlantic trade deal if it ditched EU restrictions on American products like genetically modified crops and chlorine-washed chicken.

Barnier also said the moment was approaching for a “real clarification” of Britain’s position on issues like citizens’ rights, the Irish border and the UK’s financial settlement.

The 27 remaining countries in the EU must agree next month that sufficient progress has been made on talks before it can give a green light for trade negotiations to begin.

In a speech in Rome, Barnier said: “When I hear the American commerce secretary Wilbur Ross in London calling on the British to diverge from Europe in order to be able better to converge with others – on environmental, sanitary, food regulation and probably also financial, fiscal and social [regulation – I ask myself: the UK has chosen to leave the European Union. Does it also want to distance itself from the European model?”

“Behind this European regulatory framework lie fundamental social choices to which we hold – the social market economy, the protection of health, food security, just and efficient financial regulation.

“We will not accept this regulatory framework being put in question, along with the rights which it affords to citizens, consumers, the environment, businesses, communities.”

The National (Scotland)