Margaret Ritchie joins new Lords committee and gives a hands-off warning to Tories.
Former SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie was today appointed to an important role supervising how the UK will be governed after it finally leaves the EU on December 31.
She immediately issued a “hands off” warning to the Tory government at Westminster not to use Brexit to mount a smash-and-grab operation and snatch powers for itself.
Lady Ritchie has been asked to join a powerful House of Lords select committee overseeing the so-called common frameworks, areas where the UK’s regions will cooperate in the future.
Until now, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have all been required to comply with EU law in critical areas such as agriculture, environmental regulation, state aid, public procurement and some aspects of energy, justice and transport.
But from the New Year, under current law, the devolved parliaments and assemblies will automatically take back these powers.
The common frameworks are being introduced to ensure that a single UK approach can be adopted in some areas including standards and harmonisation.
Baroness Ritchie said: “I’m delighted to have been appointed to this select committee and to be given the chance to supervise and influence this hugely important legislation.
“Like the majority of people in Northern Ireland, I never wanted Brexit and I believe we will get a far poorer deal outside the EU rather than in it.”
However, Baroness Ritchie went on to warn that there was a real risk that Tory cabinet ministers could try and use the legislation to grab powers from the devolved parliaments and assemblies and drag them back to Whitehall and Westminster.
“We all know how Boris Johnson and his pals want to centralise as much as they can so they can force their hard right agenda onto as many areas of policy as possible”, she added.
“Their constant and false mantra of Taking Back Control must not mean a frenzied bout of asset stripping of powers from the devolved administrations.
“I intend to use my position on this committee to ensure that the balance is fair and that a mendacious land grab of responsibilities by Westminster is not allowed to happen.”