The first substantive meeting on EU-exit involving the UK government, devolved administrations, the Irish Government and Crown Dependencies, took place in Cardiff today at a special ‘Brexit’ session of the British-Irish Council (BIC).
For Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns, Minister of State for Exiting the EU David Jones and Scotland Office Minister Andrew Dunlop, the meeting was a valuable opportunity to understand and discuss the priorities of the UK government, devolved administrations, Irish government and the Crown Dependencies.
The meeting was hosted by the Welsh government, and the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones AM welcomed the following heads of delegation:
- Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD led the Irish government delegation
- Alun Cairns, Secretary of State for Wales and James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, led the UK government delegation
- First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP led the Scottish government delegation
- First Minister Arlene Foster MLA and the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA represented the Northern Ireland Executive
- Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK led the Isle of Man government delegation
- Chief Minister Senator Ian Gorst led the government of Jersey delegation
- Chief Minister Deputy Gavin St Pier led the government of Guernsey delegation
The roundtable meeting also established an important commitment by all present to maintain intensive and open dialogue as the EU-exit negotiations approach.
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire said:
Today’s meeting is about focusing on the challenges ahead and maximising opportunities for everyone present. The UK government is listening very carefully to its partners and I am absolutely determined we get the best deal for all parts of the United Kingdom in the EU-exit negotiations to come.
There is a welcome commitment by everyone present today to maintain open and intensive dialogue.
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said:
I am very pleased to be here at this important summit today and sit alongside our friends on the BIC.
The Council was established to foster positive relations, and in light of the UK’s vote to exit the European Union, BIC has an important role to play. The purpose today is for continued engagement with all member administrations. It is vital to hear the views from our partners across the UK, Republic of Ireland and Crown Dependencies, and present the findings from the Wales Office during a series of meetings with businesses, charities and leaders from higher and further education.
The Prime Minister has outlined the importance of the Union. Today’s talks help build an understanding of our shared priorities and reaffirm our commitment to co-operation in light of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland Andrew Dunlop said:
The meeting today is an opportunity for us to come together as a family of nations to discuss the outcome of the referendum and work together to ensure that we get the best possible deal. Engaging with stakeholders from businesses to civic leaders, and in forums like today is incredibly important for the UK government in the weeks and months ahead. I welcome today’s open and collaborative conversation.