Amendments to controversial Article 11 of the European Union Withdrawal (Withdrawal) Act were passed last night in the House of Lords following an agreement reached last week between the UK government and the Welsh Government. Jack Sheldon and Mike Kenny explain the importance of this agreement to the United Kingdom as a whole and outline a number of unresolved issues it raises. 11 votes in the House of Commons in favour of the government`s rejection of the EU withdrawal agreement, 29 March 2019 www.parliament.uk/business/news/2019/march/mps-debate-and-vote-on-the-withdrawal-agreement-with-the-european-union/. The use of intergovernmental channels for policy development will inevitably raise questions about the adequacy of existing institutional arrangements for this task. In recent years, there have been widespread calls for reform of the structure of the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC), including committees of the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales. At the last plenary session of the JMC, a formal review was approved to ensure in particular that the structures are “useful in light of the UK`s exit from the EU”. One of the main challenges will be to ensure that structures foster constructive relations between governments and reduce the likelihood that meetings will be dominated by political issues, as has often been the case in the past. Cabinet Finance Minister Mark Drakeford made a plenary statement on April 25, in which he called the agreement “great progress from the original proposals.” Amid all the other dramas currently engulfing British politics, the dispute over the future of powers broadcast outside Scotland and Wales has been largely neglected. However, the resulting regulations are an important constitutional innovation that has implications for the United Kingdom as a whole. Getting them to work effectively will be a difficult undertaking, but there could be an important opportunity to start restoring trust between UK governments after a long period, during which it has been particularly absent.
In the coming months, we will continue to examine the issues raised in this blog post and explore the various possibilities for organising intergovernmental relations after Brexit as part of the ESRC-funded Between Two Unions research project. The new proposal, implemented by the amendments to the bill and the intergovernmental support agreement presented today, provides that the decision-making powers of Brussels will be transferred to the decentralised parliaments. For a small number of areas defined in the Intergovernmental Agreement, we expect that after the EU ruling in the United Kingdom, a common legal framework will be fully or partially necessary. While they are designed and implemented, we have proposed that existing common rules be maintained through regulations in certain areas. The proposal stresses the importance of joint work – the UK government is legally obliged to divide these regulations into the draft in order to obtain the approval of declawed legislators before going to the British Parliament.