Post-Brexit Freeport plan risks undermining decentralisation, Scotland and Wales warn

Post-Brexit Freeport plan risks undermining decentralisation, Scotland and Wales warn

Ministers were warned that they would undermine decentralization if they built new free ports in Scotland and Wales without the support of decentralized governments.

Scottish government ministers have made it clear that they will “challenge any attempt by the British government to impose its model on Scotland by enacting laws in decentralized regions”, emphasizing that such a move would be “decentralised”. Violation of the spirit of regulation”.

Holyrood Affairs Minister Evan Mackie issued the warning at the same time that he and Wales ministers called for clarification on the funding of free ports – tax breaks and lower tariffs for businesses as part of the UK government’s “flattening” programme. Offering Special Economic Zones.

The Scottish and Welsh administration fear at this point a loss in comparison to the funds provided for free ports in England.

A British government source called the Scottish government’s claims “nonsense”.

The source added: ‘Instead of working constructively with us to create much-needed jobs in Scotland, the Scottish Government will waste time playing the political game. “

However, Mr Mackie insisted that the funding proposed by Westminster is “unfair and puts the ports in Scotland at a disadvantage compared to their rivals in England”.

In a letter to Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, he claimed that the model proposed by Westminster would see British ministers decide on the location of free ports in Scotland, with only capital funding coming from the Holyrood budget.

He told the Scottish Secretary: ‘Cooperation and joint work between the skills transferred and the reserve require joint decision-making, and I would ask you to reconsider this position and accept the joint determination, or I should conclude that Have to remove that you do. an offer you want us to . reject. “

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The minister stressed that the Scottish Government is “committed to working in partnership with the British Government” on free ports.

But he added: ‘We cannot follow a British policy that does not respect decentralisation, undermines the Scottish economy and does not provide funds equal to what is given to ports in England. “

“The British Minister has failed to work with us to ensure that their proposals meet the needs of businesses and communities in Scotland.”

He also said that if the UK government goes ahead with plans that do not include fair labor and net zero emissions commitments, “the Scottish government will not support this initiative”.

Mr Mackie said: ‘To ensure that there is no race to the bottom on workers’ rights and the environment, the Scottish Government will challenge any attempt by the UK Government to implement its model in Scotland by enacting legislation in decentralized areas, which would be a violation of it. Sense of transfer regulation.

Meanwhile, Welsh Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said that the government in Cardiff has tried to ‘engage constructively with the UK government and come to an agreement to implement Port Franks in Wales which is in line with our priorities and values’ . Government “.

But she added: “The UK Government is pressuring the Welsh Government to redirect its resources to make political priority for the UK Government.

“This approach is unacceptable to us, and we have made it clear that the UK Government must demonstrate the same level of financial commitment to free ports in Wales as it is in England.”

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Welsh Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said: “The UK government’s refusal to engage constructively shows that it is decentralized by implementing a flawed Freeport without our support, rather than working with us to benefit Wales. will take the risk of reducing it.”

A UK government spokeswoman said: “The UK government is committed to bringing free port to Scotland and Wales.”

“This has immense potential to boost the Welsh and Scottish economies and create hundreds of highly skilled jobs.

“We know there is strong support from stakeholders, who are eager to see progress. We hope the Scottish and Welsh Governments decide to work with us on this. “

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