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JMC must give Article 50 clarity

Published: 24 Oct 2016 00:01

FM: devolved administrations have collective interest in seeing PM commitment delivered in full.

Ahead of the first Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) since the referendum, the First Minister has joined Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones in calling for the UK Government to produce a clearly mapped out programme of involvement, supported by a detailed timeline, to ensure that a negotiating position is agreed that truly reflects the different views across the UK.

In a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expressed support for points raised by Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones, saying 'it will not be acceptable for the devolved administrations to simply be consulted on UK Government plans.'

To ensure each nation's referendum vote is respected, the First Minster believes there is an obligation on all four administration to work together for a solution that reflects the varying needs of different parts of the UK. She also endorses the proposal from the First Minister of Wales that the planned negotiating package should be subject to a vote in all four of the United Kingdom's parliaments and assemblies.

The First Minister said that the varied referendum results mean that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have a collective interest in seeing the Prime Minister's commitment that devolved administrations should be fully engaged in EU discussions – and that Article 50 will not be triggered until there is an agreed UK approach – delivered in a full and meaningful fashion.

Text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Theresa

I am writing to express my strong support for Carwyn Jones' letter of 21 October, setting out his thoughts, in advance of Monday's plenary meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee.

Carwyn Jones is right to highlight that, although the referendum results varied across the UK, with England and Wales voting to leave, whilst Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain, we have a collective interest in seeing your commitment that the Devolved Administrations should be fully engaged in EU discussions and that you will not be triggering Article 50 until we have an agreed UK approach and objectives for negotiations, delivered in a full and meaningful fashion.

It will not be acceptable for the devolved administrations to simply be consulted on UK Government plans. We must have meaningful input into the decision making structure and the formation of negotiating positions.

To ensure that is the case and given the timing you have now set out for Article 50 notification, I endorse in particular Carwyn's point that the UK Government needs to urgently produce a clearly mapped out work programme of involvement with the Devolved Administrations, supported by a rigorous timeline, to ensure progress keeps pace with the requirement to agree a UK position.

While there are some areas, such as continued UK participation in the single market, on which all 3 Devolved Administrations will agree, the UK position will also need to take account of the specific needs, responsibilities and priorities of each administration as part of the overall UK package. To ensure those are properly reflected and the stated position of all parts of the UK as a partnership of equals is respected, I also endorse the proposal that the proposed negotiating package should be subject to a vote in each of the four of the United Kingdom's parliaments and assemblies.

As you know following Scotland's unequivocal vote to remain in the EU, the Scottish Government has a democratic duty to protect all of Scotland's interests and we are considering all possible options to ensure Scotland's continuing relationship with, and place in, Europe. I welcomed your willingness in July to consider proposals for different arrangements for Scotland as part of this process and will set out those proposals in the coming weeks.

I believe there is an obligation on all of us to try to work out solutions that will allow the vote in each of our administrations to be respected.

I look forward to discussing with you and colleagues on Monday how this is to be achieved.

I am copying this letter to the First Minister of Wales and the First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Yours sincerely

NICOLA STURGEON

Notes to editors

To see the press release from Minister for UK Negotiations for Scotland's Place in Europe, please visit: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Brexit-negotiations-Scotland-must-be-equal-partner-2d89.aspx

For a copy of the Welsh First Minister's letter please contact the Welsh Government press office on : 02920 898099