Four-nation Brexit. How the UK and devolved governments should work together on leaving the EU

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Series Details October 2016
Publication Date 24/10/2016
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Four-nation Brexit argues it is imperative that Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England reach agreement on the UK’s Brexit terms and negotiating strategy. Imposing a Brexit settlement in the face of devolved opposition (while legally possible) would be a reckless strategy for a Prime Minister (PM) with a deep commitment to the Union. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland cannot be treated like any other lobby or interest group. Equally, the devolved governments will have to accept that Westminster will have the final say.

Recent developments are not reassuring. The PM has already said the negotiations are for her government alone. And the Scottish First Minister has set her government on a collision course with Westminster by publishing a bill to hold a second independence referendum. The four governments must set out a clear plan for how they will work together on Brexit. Working in partnership will naturally require all sides to compromise. If agreement proves elusive then each of the governments should be held to account.

The report was published on the 24 October 2016, the same day that there was the first meeting for two years of the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC). The JMC was established by the Memorandum of Understanding between the UK government and the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in 2012. Its purpose is to provide central coordination of the overall relationship between the administrations.

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Related Links
ESO: Background information: PM: Devolved administrations vital to our success in the future
ESO: In Focus: Brexit - The United Kingdom and the European Union
Institute for Government: Tag: Brexit: What Now?

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