Alun Cairns criticised for ‘car crash interview’ on Today programme

Alun Cairns. Picture by Cabinet Office (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns, has been blasted after a “car crash interview” on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning.

During the interview, the Vale of Glamorgan MP pointed to a new market for lamb that has opened up in Japan for Welsh farmers – without noting that it was an EU deal that the UK would leave under Brexit.

He said: “I will point to the market in Japan that has just been opened to Welsh and British sheep for example.

“That is a new market for us, so exports are already taking place there.

“That is a significant market for which we haven’t even scratched the surface yet.”

Asked whether he was suggesting there will be a deal with Japan post-Brexit, he replied: “I’m saying that Welsh sheep is already been exported to Japan.

“It’s a new market that was agreed earlier this year.

“Therefore that is a new opportunity for the sheep sector that hasn’t had that before this year.”

The Times’ Diplomatic Correspondent, Catherine Philip, tweeted after the exchange: “Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns has car crash interview on Radio 4 today touting new market for lamb that has opened up in Japan – under EU-Japan trade deal that UK will leave under Brexit.”

Another Twitter user, Derek King, described the exchange as “toe curlingly excruciating”.

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “If anybody needs convincing of the dangers of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit to the Welsh economy, just listen back to Alun Cairns on Radio 4 Today.

“No recognition of livelihoods under threat. No serious answers. No plan for Welsh farmers. But his Cabinet job is safe and that’s what matters!”

Alun Cairns was also challenged by presenter Nick Robinson on his own comments three years ago that “farming was a huge winner from Wales being in Europe”.

He responded that 90% of the future growth in the industry would be in the rest of the world.

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He is both symbolic, and symptomatic, of the dire constitutional condition of Wales today.