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Simon Hart says he will overrule Welsh government on tax-free port in Wales ‘come what may’

19 May 2021 2 minutes Read
Holyhead Harbour. Picture by Darren Glanville (CC BY-SA 2.0). Simon Hart (right) by Chris McAndrew (CC BY 3.0).

The Welsh Secretary has said that he will overrule the Welsh Government if they attempt to block plans for a tax-free free port in Wales.

Some of the tax exemptions freeports use, such as stamp duty, are controlled by the Welsh rather than the UK Government.

But Simon Hart said that the UK Government planned to go ahead with the plan whether the Welsh Government resisted or not.

He said that it was a “source of some frustration that we have yet to get it over the line”.

“Now very clearly we would like to do that in collaboration with the Welsh government which is where the blockage currently resides but we can – and if necessary we will – proceed to deliver on our manifesto commitment come what may,” he said.

He added: “It’s a manifesto commitment, the only obstacle standing between us and delivering it is currently Welsh government”.

‘Joint decision’

Goods that arrive into freeports from abroad are exempt from tax charges. These taxes are only paid if the goods leave the freeport and are moved elsewhere in the UK. Otherwise, they are sent overseas without the charges being paid.

The UK Government’s hope is that freeports could help regenerate deprived areas such as Anglesey.

Mark Drakeford said in March that they “will not be keen to sign up to a freeport proposal that leads, for example, to a reduction in environmental standards. The UK government has agreed conditionality with the Scottish government in that way”.

“We would look for joint decision making given that devolved and non-devolved responsibilities are at stake in freeports, and again the UK government has agreed joint decision making with the Scottish government.

“Then we’d look for the same level of funding for a freeport in Wales as is being made available to all freeports in England – that’s £25m available to a freeport in England, we’d expect to see the same level of funding for a freeport in Wales.

“If there is progress on those three things that conversation can certainly continue.”

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Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
24 days ago

Just to remind Mr Hart it wasn’t the Welsh government that allowed the legislation enabling Freeports to lapse in 2012. That was the Tory government of one David Cameron of which Mr Hart was an MP.

Is this a temporary memory loss or has he always been as forgetful.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
24 days ago

There’s going to be more of this sort of thing from the Johnson Government over the next five years. Wales is heading towards a point of experiencing divided sovereignty. Thomas Hobbes in the 17th Century described such a state of affairs as potentially leading to civil war. That’s unlikely to happen in Wales, but it will almost certainly result in “constitutional war” with Westminster.

Last edited 24 days ago by Wrexhamian
Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
24 days ago

Thank you Mr Hart – the more you ignore the Welsh Parliament the quicker we will gain independence. The days of being pushed around and stepped on – are over.

Rob
Rob
24 days ago

Another example of this inept tory government making policy beyond its legal parametets.

Geraint
Geraint
24 days ago

And what will he do about the Australian trade deal? Will he stand up for Welsh farmers or will he follow Liz Truss?

Mandi A
Mandi A
24 days ago
Reply to  Geraint

Simon Hart, previous job CEO of Country Landowners’ Association. Their policy “you can always adapt what you do with your land”. A far cry from Drakeford’s statement that farming is a way of life and the heart of the Welsh language.

Pricey
Pricey
23 days ago
Reply to  Geraint

Have a guess.

Mandi A
Mandi A
23 days ago

Virginia Crosbie was parachuted in from Kensington & Chelsea Tories to push for a freeport in Holyhead – and, she hoped, Chinese nuclear power. K&C has strong links with the Cayman Islands. Jill Mortimer, the new MP for Hartlepool, where benefits from the Middlesborough freeport up the road are being lavishly promised – she was out in the Cayman Islands where her husband ran the banking. Paget-Browns in CI run the Law Commission and the anti-money laundering. Be under no illusion what is being planned here. Freeport = financial enclave. Wales cannot allow its mouth to be stuffed with gold.… Read more »

Mandi A
Mandi A
23 days ago

While this website awaits approval for my links, go to weworkforyou.com to see Virginia’s remarks to the PM yesterday as to how a freeport at Holyhead will “breathe fire into the Welsh dragon” and “will he come and have a panad at the truck stop?”.

Mandi A
Mandi A
23 days ago

Boris’ reply to Virginia’s invitation:

It says here that I must not express a preference on the location of freeports, and I will not, but my hon. Friend makes an outstanding case, as ever. Together with our Welsh Conservative colleagues, she is helping to apply the Vicks inhaler to the bunged-up nostrils of the Welsh dragon.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
23 days ago
Reply to  Mandi A

Gosh, thanks, Boris. Whatever would Wales-shire do without you?

Consider his Vicks inhaler as another ploy in his project of sidelining devolution to the point where it becomes an irrelevance.

Last edited 23 days ago by Wrexhamian
Mandi A
Mandi A
23 days ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

Well they do like inhaling – round at Govey’s place, I understand.

Robin Hill
Robin Hill
22 days ago

We have a democratic way to avoid this. Labour & Plaid can agree on the strongest candidate to oppose the Tory at the next Westminster election thus ridding us of these corrupt leeches.. Tories will quickly withdraw this nonsense idea when they lose Ynys Mon.

Mandi A
Mandi A
18 days ago

Virginia’s written question of yesterday (24th May). Note her aspiration for the whole of Anglesey to be a freeport. Well, we always did aspire to be a separate republic !  To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the potential effect of designation Anglesey a Freeport on the ability to a) resolve the issue of reduced trade flows in the central corridor and b) use the central corridor to facilitate the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Steve Barclay replied that “we remain committed to establishing a Freeport in Wales as soon as possible. Any… Read more »

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