This Government is walking a tightrope on devolution if Prime Minister Boris Johnson really intends to plan for a Global future once we are outside the EU. Powers over health standards, food packaging and animal welfare among others must be retained by central Government. Our ability to sign trade deals with countries all over the world, must not be restricted by internal disputes between component parts of the United Kingdom – argues Jayne Adye, Director of grassroots Eurosceptic campaign Get Britain Out

By leaving the European Union, this country is taking back extensive control of legislative powers from Brussels. In line with previous commitments on devolution, the Government has committed to returning nearly 100 individual powers on matters including animal welfare, environmental standards and food packaging, to devolved administrations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. While this does comply with devolution commitments, it also creates a scenario which could make the signing of future trade deals much more difficult, so care must be taken over which powers are given away to devolved Governments, especially as it seems the Scottish National Party in Scotland seems determined to try and make things difficult for the UK Government as a whole.

When it comes to our future as 'Global Britain', the ability to sign new trade deals with our biggest partners is paramount. Within nearly all comprehensive Free Trade Agreements, there is a requirement for homogenised regulations between partners so that a business knows if they export to one part of a country, they have to reach the same standards as in another part. Under current Government proposals this homogenisation is under threat, with component parts of the UK being granted powers to diverge away from central UK Government regulations. If this happens, then the legitimacy and extent of the trade deals we will be able to sign in the future, will be lessened.

If we are to improve the quality of future trade deals and progress through negotiations at an acceptable speed, then it is vital the Government retains control of key standards of regulation. We must not find ourselves in the situation the EU so often does, when trade negotiations are bogged down by internal disputes and petty political point-scoring.

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When it comes to the SNP and Scotland, this kind of mentality has already been seen with SNP representatives – including the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon – openly calling for Scotland to align itself to EU standards for goods, even if other parts of the UK diverge. This kind of internal barrier to trade would be devastating to hopes of trade deals with those outside the EU – a point which Sturgeon is clearly aware of in her mission to constantly try and gain an advantage over Boris Johnson. While there are attempts being made within legislation to limit Scotland's divergence from the rest of the UK, the new powers being handed to the devolved administrations at the end of the year set a precedent which could be exploited in the future.

Some form of devolution undoubtedly has some merits, as it is advisable for local Governments to have a say on local decision-making. If this wasn't the case then there would be no issue with the EU deciding our laws for us. However, this principle can only stretch so far and when it comes down to it, unlike the EU, the UK is a single country with one central Government. When it comes to matters of trade and the standards we set for those we deal with, decisions must be taken by one central Government which has been elected by the majority of the UK.

We must make sure the ambitions for a Global Britain do not come under threat from internal squabbles perpetuated by those within devolved administrations whose 'sole political goal' is the breakup of the UK. Even in response to the COVID-19 crisis, these splits – driven by political ambitions – have begun to show, with different decisions taken in component parts of the UK. The actual rules are almost identical, but it seems tweaks have been made simply for the sake of appearances!

It is time for Boris Johnson to take a strong stance against an increasing stream of devolution. If those in power in the devolved administrations – especially in Scotland – continue to expect a bigger and bigger slice of the financial pie from the UK, then it is about time they complied with the principles of a singular central Government trade policy. If we as a United Kingdom are to move forward to Get Britain Out of the EU completely, returning to the Global Stage, then we must limit the scope for petty internal squabbles and unite behind a single vision. Uncontrolled devolution is a clear barrier to this goal.

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