Thank you to everyone who has contacted me in recent days to about the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and its effect on the devolved administrations.
The first thing to say is that Unionism underpins my political opinions and I want Brexit to be a catalyst for devolving further powers and responsibilities to the devolved administrations. I am pleased to learn that many constituents share my determination to strengthen the devolved administrations and ensure that decisions are taken closer to the people whom they effect.
The Prime Minister has said repeatedly that she will represent all the people of the UK in the negotiations. I can also assure you that the Government is working with the devolved administrations to ensure that our withdrawal from the EU works for the whole of the UK. The Joint Ministerial Committee provides the main channel for the officials and the leaders of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments to have their say.
You will be pleased to hear that any decision currently taken by the devolved administrations will remain their responsibility after the UK leaves the EU. The Government has also proposed that the vast majority of powers that are returned from Brussels should start in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. If the devolved administrations accept this offer it would strengthen and enhance the devolution settlements - not weaken them.
The UK Government and the devolved administrations have already agreed that frameworks will be required to break down which of the powers returning from the EU should reside at a devolved level. While the frameworks are being agreed, the presumption will also be that these powers should reside at devolved level. Westminster would only be involved to protect the UK common market while a UK-wide framework is put in place.
I hope that this reassures everyone.
Robert Courts MP