Mark Drakeford: Wales facing ‘very difficult days’ if UK Gov breaks Brexit promise
Wales is heading for ‘very difficult days’ unless the UK Government delivers on a Brexit promise to match EU funding, the Welsh First Minister has warned.
Mark Drakeford says that people in Wales voted on Brexit after promises that the nation would ‘not be a penny worse off’ if the UK left the European Union.
In an interview with CNBC International, he said that Wales currently stands to lose out on ‘many, many millions of pounds’, hampering the ability to build a successful economy.
He said: “In 2016, people were promised in Wales, people were persuading them to vote to leave the European Union, but that Wales would not be a penny worse off as a result of Brexit.
“Sadly that is turning out to be absolutely not the case. Wales will be many, many millions of pounds worse off next year as a result of Brexit because the UK Government simply isn’t delivering on that promise.”
The EU structural funds ended in December 2020 with Wales no longer receiving £375 million a year in economic aid.
The UK Government has pledged to replace the amount lost but by creating a Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) but has yet to provide clear details of how this will work.
In the meantime, £220m funds are being provided by a Community Renewal Fund but this covers all of the UK nations with Wales expecting to receive around £10m.
Mark Drakeford added that if the UK Government intends to, ”turn the taps off on what I regard as necessary public investment’ then it will lead to “very difficult days here in Wales”.
He said that if the UK Government honoured its promises to replace European funding in full, it will offer, “a path out of coronavirus that is an investment path – not an austerity path.”