Freeports resisted by Welsh Government might be dead in the water after Treasury ‘kills’ the idea
After a long fight with the Welsh and Scottish Governments over imposing freeports on the autonomous nations, they may have been “killed” after all, UK Government sources have said.
Welsh Secretary Simon Hart had previously said that Wales would have to accept a freeport “come what may” and Economy Minister Vaughan Gething had warned them not to “impose” a tax-free port on Wales.
But senior ministers have now briefed to the London newspapers that Treasury officials had now “killed” the ports. It was one of many UK Government schemes across Whitehall suppressed by Civil Servants, they said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak had previously lauded the free ports as a way of “levelling up” the economy outside of London.
But according to the Telegraph, Treasury privately feared that freeports would simply result in less tax revenue and “displace” existing investment from elsewhere.
“The Treasury has killed freeports,” a source told the newspaper.
The Treasury’s concerns mirror that of the Welsh Government, with First Minister Mark Drakeford previously stating that “anybody sensible” would be “worried about displacement in freeports”.
But he added in March that those issues were “resolvable” but that the “ball at the moment is in the court of the UK government”.