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Not sunk yet: Welsh freeport still in the works says Prime Minister

12 Jan 2022 3 minute read
Holyhead Harbour. Picture by Darren Glanville (CC BY-SA 2.0). Boris Johnson right, picture by Kuhlmann /MSC (CC BY 3.0 DE).

A tax free port in Wales is still in the works, the Prime Minister has confirmed today.

It was reported before the new year that the idea of setting up freeports in Wales and Scotland may have been “killed” by Treasury civil servants.

But in the House of Commons today Boris Johnson answered Ynys Môn MP Virginia Crosbie to say that they were still planning on bringing a freeport to Wales, with Michael Gove leading the discussions.

“Can the Prime Minister confirm to me and my Ynys Môn constituents that the UK Government are committed to at least one freeport in Wales?” Virginia Crosbie asked. “Will he update the House on how discussions are progressing with the Welsh Government?”

Boris Johnson replied that “my right honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities [Michael Gove] is indeed talking to his counterparts in the Welsh Government about establishing a freeport in Wales.

“I urge our friends in the Welsh Government to agree to those plans as a matter of urgency.”

The question came after the Telegraph reported last year that the idea of setting up freeports in Wales and Scotland may have been “killed” by Treasury civil servants.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak had previously lauded the free ports as a way of “levelling up” the economy outside of London.

But according to the Telegraph, the 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.

‘Seperatists’

Virginia Crosbie has previously also quizzed Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg as to how the freeport plan was progressing.

He replied by blasting the “socialist and separatists” running the Welsh Government, saying that they are standing in the way of the UK Government creating a tax-free port in Wales.

“I do not know whether you have heard the news that the socialists have gone into partnership with the separatists in Wales, so we now have to wonder whether the socialists are any longer a Unionist party,” Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the House of Commons, replied.

However, he said that “Her Majesty’s Government are committed to establishing the freeports programme in Wales as soon as possible”.

“Freeports are a really important way of levelling up, he said. “They are national hubs for trade, innovation and commerce, regenerating communities across the UK, attracting new businesses, and spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities across the whole of the United Kingdom.”

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart had previously said that Wales would have to accept a freeport “come what may”, while Wales’ Economy Minister Vaughan Gething had warned them not to “impose” the port on Wales.

First Minister Mark Drakeford had also previously voiced his reservations, saying that “anybody sensible” would be “worried about displacement in freeports”.

But he added in March of last year that those issues were “resolvable” but that the “ball at the moment is in the court of the UK government”.


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Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
10 months ago

The Welsh government has said it does not want free ports in Wales and especially when Wales is being funded less than the English free ports. Free ports will not benefit Wales and it’s time the UK government and croney Welsh Tories – backed off and respected our wishes.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

Who cares what ‘dead man walking’ says anymore…

Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean
10 months ago

Port Talbot is my guess, with the offshore wind potential of the Celtic Sea

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
10 months ago

Ms Crosbie needs to explain why levelling up means English Freeports, 8 of them, get more than 3 times the taxpayer funding that one Welsh Freeport would. Simon Hart tried to explain but seemed to think that the Senedd got all income tax paid in Wales.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
10 months ago

A freeport will not benefit Wales end of story. The two main viable ports in Wales are Fishguard & Holyhead, and because of Brexit Irish hauliers are now bypassing Wales due to red tape favouring direct routes to France etc… The Conservatives under their Con/Lib coalition’s minimalist Wales Bill agreement the devolution of Ports & Taxis to our Senedd under Millennium Stadium fanfare. The fascist Tories must understand that this is a devolved matter, and Whitehall or their agent provocateur WS Simon Hart have no right under Welsh Law to interfere, threaten or intimidate by forcing a freeport on Wales… Read more »

Gareth
Gareth
10 months ago

Just one question, if Free ports are so good, why did the Tory Cameron Gov get rid of them all in 2012 ?

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