Welsh first minister warns Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill will ‘significantly damage’ the Union

Prime minister Boris Johnson. Photograph: Toby Melville/PA Wire

Prime minister Boris Johnson. Photograph: Toby Melville/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Wales' first minister has delivered a stark warning to Boris Johnson that his latest Brexit bill will 'significantly damage' the Union.

Downing Street's controversial internal market bill will do 'significant damage' to the union if it becomes law, first minister Mark Drakeford said.

The bill transfers powers from the EU to the UK government to spend on areas such as economic development, infrastructure and sport, and would replace existing EU funding programmes.

Welsh Labour Leader Mark Drakeford AM, at the launch of the Welsh Labour Party campaign in Cardiff;

Welsh Labour Leader Mark Drakeford AM, at the launch of the Welsh Labour Party campaign in Cardiff; Ben Birchall PA Archive/PA Images - Credit: PA

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Drakeford said Welsh agriculture and food standards would be put at risk, as would the Welsh government's plan to ban a range of single-use plastics.

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On Thursday, Welsh secretary Simon Hart told the Welsh Affairs Committee he was 'mystified' by claims from the Welsh government of power grabs.

Speaking at the Welsh government briefing, Drakeford told reporters: 'The Welsh government will lose a whole slew of powers.

'There is no excuse for the secretary of state's mystification because this has been pointed out to him many times.'

Drakeford highlighted the current consultation on the banning of single-use plastics in Wales, which he claimed would be 'blown away' by Johnson's new bill.

'Our ability to defend high standards in Welsh agricultural, in Welsh produce, which is the bedrock of the way in which the reputation of Welsh agriculture has been built over recent years, will be fundamentally undermined by this bill,' he said.

'There is no doubt whatsoever that the bill removes from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland powers and responsibilities that have been here, not just in recent times, but from the very beginning of devolution.

'The bill needs radical amendment if it is not to do significant damage to the unity of the UK.'

On Thursday, Hart told MPs that Wales would get 70 additional powers as a consequence of the legislation.

'There isn't a single thing that they currently do, not one, which they would not be able to do when this process passes through its legislative stages,' Hart said.

Hart was asked whether there had been a breakdown in trust between the UK government and the Welsh government.

'I think if we look at our responsibilities through the prism of jobs and livelihoods, then it shouldn't,' he replied.

'If we look at these things simply through the prism of political power, then there is a distinction between us.'

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