Wales politics

Brexit: Carwyn Jones told to accept and get behind EU vote

David Davies Image copyright Getty Images

The Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones could learn from the reaction of the losing side of the Welsh devolution referendum, Tory MP David Davies claimed.

Mr Davies compared the response of some in Labour to Brexit with the reaction of no-campaigners in the 1997 vote.

He spoke as MPs debated the EU Withdrawal Bill on Monday.

Labour's Rhondda MP Chris Bryant called the bill "pernicious," "dangerous" and "un-British".

The bill repeals the law under which Britain joined the European Economic Communities.

It also transfers EU law into British law following its departure from the block, but it has been criticised for giving ministers powers to make laws without full parliamentary scrutiny.

Opposition MPs and the Welsh and Scottish governments say it amounts to a "power grab" with powers in devolved areas such as farming transferred initially to Westminster rather than to Cardiff and Edinburgh.

Mr Davies, who voted to leave the European Union, voted against establishing a Welsh Assembly.

He told the Commons: "Even though it was a narrow margin - much narrower than the recent EU referendum - and on a much smaller turnout, we did not try to stop the process.

"We didn't go rushing off trying to take the government to court, we in fact got involved in the shaping of the Welsh Assembly's standing orders through a body called the National Assembly Advisory Group.

"And this is a lesson which the first minister of Wales and some of his colleagues in Parliament here should do well to remember."

Image caption Chris Bryant said the bill is the "biggest peace-time power grab... in a 100 years"

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has told his MPs to vote against the Bill. Rhondda Labour MP Chris Bryant, who voted to remain in the EU, told the debate: "This Bill is utterly pernicious. It is dangerous. it is fundamentally un-British and I think it has, at its heart, a lie.

"It pretends to bring back power to this country but it actually represents the biggest peace-time power grab by the executive over the legislature, by the government over Parliament in 100 years.

"It allows the government to drive through changes to any law by the simple fiat of a minister... and in the most extreme instance of all, it allows ministers to alter the bill itself.

"That is a dangerous spiral of autocracy."

But Brexit Secretary David Davis warned that opposing the legislation could lead to confusion.

Ahead of the debate, he said: "A vote against this Bill is a vote for a chaotic exit from the European Union.

"The British people did not vote for confusion and neither should Parliament."


But Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams hit back, claiming: "The British government is attempting to use the EU referendum result as a means of grabbing power for themselves and bypassing democracy.

"They are trying to give themselves the ability to act without the need for parliamentary approval - including the ability to amend Welsh legislation that is the responsibility of our own parliament in Wales, not Westminster."

Critics of the Bill, including some Conservative MPs, are expected to try to amend the legislation later on in its passage through Parliament.

More on this story