Whitehall’s view is that while the door to talks is still open, the Prime Minister’s final offer is on the table and to give more concessions to Edinburgh now would jeopardise the agreement with the Labour-run Welsh Government.
“That’s it,” declared one senior UK Government source.
This means if the First Minister declines to backtrack on her opposition to the EU Withdrawal Bill, a cross-border constitutional clash will take place because Mrs May and her colleagues are adamant the “vital”
piece of legislation to produce legal certainty after Brexit will be pushed through with or without the consent of MSPs.
While the Welsh Government will repeal its own Continuity Bill, the Scottish Government now faces a legal tussle with Whitehall over its own version before the judges of the UK Supreme Court, probably in June.
The UK Government insists it has “moved significantly” since the talks began several months ago, but it now believes its argument against a “power-grab” has been strengthened by the agreement of Cardiff, which in a statement accepted significant changes to the Withdrawal Bill “that protect devolution have been secured”.
Welsh Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said: “London’s willingness to listen to our concerns and enter serious negotiations has been welcome. In a devolved UK, the respective governments need to deal with each other as equals and this agreement is a step in the right direction.”