Blog: Brexit engagement better under Theresa May, says Welsh minister – BBC News

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EPA

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Engagement has dropped following Theresa May’s departure from No.10, says Jeremy Miles

UK government engagement with the Welsh government on Brexit-related laws was “significantly better” under Theresa May, a Welsh minister has said.

Minister for European Transition Jeremy Miles said there were talks for about a year between governments about a UK internal market bill.

That “level of engagement dried up at the start of this year”, Mr Miles told a committee of MPs.

The UK government was asked for comment.

The Welsh government accuses UK ministers of “stealing” its powers with the current Internal Market Bill.

But UK ministers say the law would allow them to replace existing EU funding programmes, as powers which had been held by Brussels are transferred to the governments around the UK next year.

The new spending powers include infrastructure, economic development, culture, sport, and support for educational, training and exchange opportunities – areas that would otherwise be devolved to the Welsh government.

Mr Miles told the Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union on Tuesday that he “didn’t know what the bill would contain in detail” apart from a conversation with Business Secretary Alok Sharma “the night before it was published”.

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Jeremy Miles has said the powers the bill would transfer would “sacrifice the future of the union”

In the Commons chamber on Monday, Caerphilly MP Wayne David said the Internal Market Bill “severely undermines the devolution settlement”.

The Labour MP said south Wales benefitted “substantially” from EU structural funds.

He said while this bill gives a legal basis to replace these funds with the UK government’s proposed Shared Prosperity Fund it gives “exclusive power” to the UK Government to decide where and how that money is spent.

But former Welsh secretary, Vale of Glamorgan Conservative MP Alun Cairns, said there were “frustrations” in communities in Wales about previous EU funds being “wasted”.

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Alun Cairns said “so much money has been wasted” under EU funded schemes

Mr David said: “When Britain was in the EU – less well-off areas like south Wales benefitted substantially from the EU structural funds

“My constituency like many others benefited enormously. The government has proposed a Shared Prosperity Fund to replace the structural funds.

“This bill gives a legal base for that fund but significantly the bill gives exclusive power to the UK Parliament, the UK Government to decide where and how that money is spent.

“Previously, the devolved institutions had a real say in how European money was spent in the areas of devolution.

“Now what I think will happen is the resources will not go to the poor areas the areas of need, but will be allocated according to Tory central government priorities.

“That is structurally and morally wrong.”

Responding to Mr David’s claims, Mr Cairns asked Mr David if he was “fully aware of frustrations of communities in Wales about how so much money has been wasted over so many years with the highest level of European funds”.

Mr Cairns said an example of “wasted” funds included a funicular in Blaenau Gwent that “broke down within weeks of being completed”.

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