A leaked Brexit planning document has revealed the extent to which the UK Government has had to hide information from the devolved administrations in recent months. The Government’s “Transition period planning assumptions (central case)” document, written and circulated to Cabinet ministers in June, includes detailed plans on subsidy control that have only now appeared in the Internal Market Bill. Key lines were deliberately withheld from devolved administrations…
Cabinet ministers were warned that plans to revoke EU laws through statutory instruments, and for the UK government to assume control of state aid throughout the UK “should not be shared publicly or with the devolved administrations at this stage”.
A companion document outlined the “reasonable worst case scenario” for Food Supply as “a tightening of supply and an increase in demand for certain agri-food products, but not cause an overall food shortage. The effect of this disruption is likely to be reduced supply availability, especially of certain fresh products”. Further down the page, small print reveals that the “handling instructions” for the document forbid the details being shared with Devolved Administrations. No doubt under the assumption that the ‘worst case’ assumptions would be spun for political gain.
Not the best way to create trust in the union between the four countries of the UK…
UPDATE: The SNP reaction:
“These leaked documents prove the Tory government deliberately hid crucial information about its extreme Brexit plans – including the likelihood of food shortages – from the devolved nations, as well as details about the Tory power grab on the Scottish Parliament.
“It demonstrates, yet again, that the Tories cannot be trusted to act in Scotland’s interests – or even tell the truth. We already knew they were willing to break international law, and this shows they have attempted to disguise their plans to impose an extreme Brexit against Scotland’s will.
UPDATE: A government spokesperson gets in touch:
“We frequently engage with the Devolved Administrations on contingency planning for the end of the transition period. The Scottish Government, Northern Ireland Executive and Welsh Government attended an Exit Operations [XO] Cabinet committee on contingency planning earlier today where food supply was discussed. We have shared all relevant planning assumptions with them, including the Reasonable Worst Case Scenario document on food supplies.
Government sources are keen to emphasise that the regulation of subsidy control is a reserved matter and the responsibility of the UK Parliament to determine. Arguing that it is crucial to have a UK wide approach to subsidies to protect the internal market and to prevent harmful and distortive practices arising across the UK.