Wales politics

Alun Cairns: We want to devolve powers after Brexit

Alun Cairns
Image caption Alun Cairns says he is an optimist that the UK will get a good Brexit deal

UK ministers want to devolve "as much as possible" when powers are handed back from the EU after Brexit, Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns has said.

He told BBC Wales Theresa May's "general principle" was that "many" powers returned from the EU would go to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

But he said "no specific decisions on individual elements" had been made.

On Monday, Welsh ministers welcomed Mrs May's "commitment" there would be no Brexit "land grab" on devolved powers.

Speaking to The Wales Report on Wednesday, Mr Cairns said the passing of the latest Wales Act showed that the UK government wanted to extend the remit of the assembly, saying it was the "general principle" for powers being returned from the EU.

However, he said there had to be a framework that worked for the whole of the UK.

"We've talked about the principle that we want to devolve as much as possible, we want to give as much flexibility as possible to the devolved administrations to act within the areas they act at the moment, but we need to ensure that the UK market works," he said.

Mr Cairns added that the new Wales Act was "a long-term deal" and "very good" for Wales.

He also said that the UK government's desire for a free trade deal without membership of the single market was "not inconsistent" with Welsh ministers' call for "full and unfettered" access to the single market.

'Second guess'

Wales' Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford told the programme: "I think we're beginning to hear UK ministers using some of the language we have used in relation to the importance of access to the single market; the fullest possible access - the prime minister said."

Mrs May has said that the UK will not pay "vast contributions" to the EU to access the single market, but Mr Cairns would not be drawn on the detail.

"Clearly I want the best deal that works for every part of the UK and I'm there at the cabinet table to make sure that it works for Wales," he said.

"I am not going to second guess where we are going to get to because there's a way to go in that process. I am optimistic that we'll get a good deal".

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "During their meeting on Monday the Prime Minister made a firm commitment to the First Minister that Brexit would not be used as cover for a 'land grab' on devolved powers.

"We welcome this commitment and await details of the great repeal bill with interest."

The Wales Report is on BBC One Wales at 22:40 GMT on Wednesday 1 February.

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