Wales politics

Welsh Assembly votes against Boris Johnson's Brexit deal

The Senedd chamber
Image caption AMs voted by a majority to reject Boris Johnson's agreement

The Welsh Assembly has voted to oppose Boris Johnson's Brexit agreement.

While MPs debated the legislation underpinning the deal on Tuesday, AMs voted 37 to 16 against it.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said it is a "bad deal for Wales" and argued the Senedd should go further and refuse formal consent for the bill.

But Welsh Conservative assembly leader Paul Davies said Mr Drakeford was ignoring the will of Welsh leave voters.

Labour had tabled a joint assembly motion with Plaid Cymru against the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

In the debate Mr Drakeford confirmed ministers are planning a separate assembly vote on whether AMs consent to the bill becoming law.

It will not be legally binding on Westminster but it is convention that laws passed by Parliament which have an impact on devolution are also agreed by the Senedd.

The prime minister paused the legislation's passage in Parliament after MPs voted against his three-day Commons timetable for the law on Tuesday night.

Mr Drakeford said: "It is a bad deal for Wales because it would clearly damage our economy, above all our manufacturing and agri-food sectors.

"It is a bad deal for Wales because there are no legally binding commitments to maintaining employment, environment and consumer rights and protections."

He said arrangements for Northern Ireland would result in a "hard border in the Irish sea" and amount to "a huge breach in the economic integrity of the United Kingdom".

Image caption Mark Drakeford said the deal is bad for Wales and the UK

The first minister said the bill will "certainly" need a consent motion in the assembly, and said the UK government's Brexit department had written "asking for our consent".

He claimed the bill will restrict the assembly "from passing any legislation incompatible with EU law" and "provides sweeping powers to UK ministers" that could allow them to "unilaterally change" Welsh devolution legislation.

Mr Drakeford, together with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, has said an extension is needed so parliamentarians in Cardiff and Edinburgh can properly consider the bill.

"The government wants to ram it through all its stages at Westminster in less than ten days" he said, "and it wants this Senedd and the Scottish Parliament to provide legislative consent even more quickly. It is quite unconscionable."

Attacking the prime minister himself, Mr Drakeford accused him of trying to "railroad Parliament".

'It's 'my way or no way', and that's no way to act in a democracy," he said.

Image caption Paul Davies said Mark Drakeford was contradicting the will of the people of Wales

Welsh Conservative assembly leader Paul Davies said the first minister's position "directly contradicts the will of the people of Wales".

"There is nothing in his comments that respects the referendum result nor shows any commitment to delivering that referendum result," he said.

"Instead, we've heard excuses for delaying Brexit, constant political point scoring and a general disregard of the views of the Welsh people."

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said the politics of the UK had been "forced to the edge of a precipice by one of the most irresponsible, reckless governments that we've ever seen."

"Instead of politics proceeding through cool reflection, effective scrutiny, what we're having is politics working through bitter arguments and threats."

"It's completely unacceptable," he added.

But Brexit Party AM Mandy Jones questioned whether it was a matter for the assembly at all.

"It's not for this place to decide, is it?," she said. "It is currently being discussed in Parliament, so why on earth are we pre-empting any decision?

"This motion today is nothing more than a PR stunt for the Welsh Government and its little helpers."

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