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EU Trade Negotiations

Volume 682: debated on Wednesday 14 October 2020

What recent discussions he has had with the devolved Administrations on UK trade negotiations with the EU. (907294)

I have regular discussions with Welsh Ministers on a range of issues, including EU negotiations. The Joint Ministerial Committee on EU negotiations meets regularly. My Cabinet and ministerial colleagues frequently meet Ministers from the devolved Administrations.

Tomorrow is the day the Prime Minister has set as the deadline for a trade deal with the EU. So far, the devolved Administrations have been left out of the loop or deliberately kept in the dark on some details. Does the Secretary of State believe that withholding key information and detail at such a stage as this shows respect or disrespect to the devolved Administrations?

I do not recognise the hon. Gentleman’s accusation. Given the number of meetings I have personally been in with Ministers from the devolved nations, let alone other colleagues, it would be a difficult charge to land to suggest that they have not been closely involved with the process right from the beginning. I suspect his comments are based on the fact that he does not like the reality of what is going on, rather than being a legitimate comment.

Last week, it was revealed that the Secretary of State’s Government have actively sought to conceal information from the Welsh Government. This information included the likelihood of food shortages and their intention to grab new powers. That does not sound like inter- governmental parity of esteem. Where does his role to represent the Tory party in Wales stop and his role to build trust and mutual respect start?

The first responsibility in this particular context is to respect the fact that 55% of people in Wales voted to leave the European Union, and it seems astonishing that the party of Wales, represented by the right hon. Lady, is still so out of step with the people of Wales when it comes to that. The clock is not being turned back, and what we are attempting to do is to deliver a deal that respects that decision and all the institutions in Wales, which I thought we both valued.

Trust in politicians is sadly diminishing, because politicians are not seen to answer the question at hand. Back to the matter of trust, transmission rates indicate that Wales stands on the brink of a circuit-break announcement. Businesses in Wales, and people who need to self-isolate, seek assurance that they can trust the Treasury to back up covid-19 control measures made in Wales for Wales. Can the Secretary of State guarantee to the people of Wales that they can, indeed, trust the Government to do this?

Having seen the Chancellor ensure that the Welsh Government have had £4.4 billion-worth of UK taxpayers’ money for exactly that purpose, I hope the right hon. Lady would share my view that we are looking at the UK in the round. Covid is an international problem, and it does not respect political boundaries. The Chancellor’s announcements make it very clear that he sees all the UK as a priority, not just individual component parts, and I would think the numbers speak for themselves.