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Scottish ministers demand to see UK's Brexit white paper

UK Government accused of failing to engage with devolved administrations.

Dispute: Mike Russell wrote to Theresa May's de facto deputy.
Dispute: Mike Russell wrote to Theresa May's de facto deputy. PA

Scottish and Welsh ministers demanded access to the UK Government's white paper setting out its Brexit position ahead of a meeting on EU negotiations on Thursday.

They said they would have no "meaningful opportunity" to help shape the UK's stance on leaving the EU without viewing a draft of the document.

Scotland's constitutional relations secretary Mike Russell and Wales' finance secretary Mark Drakeford wrote to David Lidington, Theresa May's effective deputy, highlighting concerns over the involvement of the devolved administrations.

The Scottish Government says it comes after UK ministers failed to "substantively engage" while developing fisheries proposals.

Meanwhile, the Scottish and UK Governments are still locked in a row over where powers returning to the UK should go after Brexit.

The letter was sent to Mr Lidington ahead of a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations JMC (EN) on Thursday.

Mr Russell and Mr Drakeford said "unsatisfactory" discussions had taken place on sections of the White Paper at a meeting of the Ministerial Forum last week, with the devolved ministers only able to base their contributions on a "brief oral summary" of relevant chapters.

"This in no sense lives up to the assurance that we would have a meaningful opportunity to shape negotiating positions as they are developed," they wrote.

"We therefore wish to make it absolutely clear that we will not regard any discussion of the white paper at (the) Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations JMC (EN) as meaningful, unless we have been given prior access to the text of the draft white paper as it currently stands.

"If we do not have this opportunity, we will have to make it very clear that we have been given no real possibility to consider, let alone influence the content of a document which will purport to speak on behalf of the whole of the United Kingdom, about matters, many of which are devolved, and on a subject which is of the greatest possible importance to the people of Scotland and Wales."

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