UK Government ‘putting ideology above the Welsh economy’ in rush to get Brexit deal – Drakeford

Mark Drakeford. Picture by NHS Confederation (CC BY 2.0)

First Minister Mark Drakeford today warned that the UK Government’s rushed bid to get a future trade with the EU will damage the Welsh economy.

The UK Government has published its negotiating mandate for talks on our future relationship with the EU.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is asking for a Canada-style trade and wanted “regulatory freedom” from the EU.

But he said that if not enough progress has been made by June, then the government would “need to decide whether the UK’s attention should move away from negotiations and focus solely on continuing domestic preparations to exit the transition period in an orderly fashion”.

The First Minister said that such a “basic, bare-bones relationship” would will have serious real-life implications for the Welsh economy.

“The UK Government have refused to put forward any analysis of the impact of the relationship they want,” Mark Drakeford said. “Not being straight with the public on what this approach will mean for our economy is unacceptable.

“They are rushing to get a deal – any deal – by the end of the year. That political ambition is clearly more important to them than getting a deal that is in the interests of all the nations of the UK.

“The proposals put ideology ahead of people’s livelihoods. The UK Government no longer even pretends that there will be no new barriers to trade. Their proposals will mean more paperwork, more delays, more checks on goods and services we export to EU. And if the negotiations fail, we also risk facing tariffs which would be crippling for our farmers and food sector.

“The Prime Minister needs to be open with the public on the choices the UK Government is making and their impact on jobs, businesses, investment and communities. Hiding the truth is unacceptable. The UK cannot simply walk away from the close, integrated economy we have with Europe and hope the public will not notice.”

 

Tariffs

The UK’s negotiating mandate asks for:

  • A liberalised market for trade in goods, with no tariffs, fees, charges or quantitative restrictions on trade in manufactured or agricultural products.
  • That competition and subsidies should not be subject to the final agreement’s dispute resolution mechanism, which had been previously signalled in the political declaration.
  • A separate agreement on fisheries that would allow for annual negotiations on access to each other’s waters including allowable catch and shares. The EU wants fishing to be considered as part of the overall agreement.
  • An agreement on equivalence on financial services to be decided before the end of June.

The UK’s demands put it at odds with the EU, which wants some degree of regulatory alignment, with the option of imposing tariffs if one side reneges. It would also like a role for the ECJ.

Downing Street says this goes further in restricting the UK’s sovereignty than the EU’s offers to other nations such as Japan, Canada and the US.

Interests

The First Minister, Mark Drakeford, also commented on the way in which the UK Government has failed to work with the devolved governments.

“Over the last three and a half years, we have taken every opportunity to speak to UK Ministers about the specific concerns we have on protecting and promoting the Welsh economy, providing evidence and proposals,” he said. “The UK Government has chosen a very different course.

“The mandate they have published means that Wales’ vital interests are not represented in these negotiations. When the UK Government begins these negotiations next week – the most important in 50 years – it will be doing so on its own. To our great regret, it has chosen not to speak for all the governments across the UK.”

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Plain citizen
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Plain citizen

Not sure Drakeford is right. If he defends farmers interests and we have high import duties on farm produce from abroad it means the majority of the Welsh population pays a lot more for food. The NFU says food prices will fall between 25-50% if we remove tariffs on imports disadvantaging 5% in agriculture but helping the 95% who are not, who may choose cheaper products if they wish. Sounds like a return of the corn law debates that broke the Tories in the 19th century . Landowning minority v urban poor majority. Do we want urban poor to exercise… Read more »

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

Nothing wrong with food prices falling so long as that being imported is of a good equal quality. Fact is that a lot of imported stuff is “dodgy” and should be called out as such. Most meat and dairy produce, made in Wales, is of a higher standard than EU foods, and far ahead of any stuff that travels thousands of miles in “controlled environments” to arrive “fresh” ! Thus a modest premium is not out of place in such a muddled market. Sadly the supermarkets will endeavour to use imports as battering tool against native farmers so consumers need… Read more »

Plain citizen
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Plain citizen

I agree, I just want Welsh citizens to be able to have the freedom of choice.

Kerry Davies
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Kerry Davies

I don’t see how allowing Welsh farmers to be driven to the wall by cheap imports enhances choice. You won’t have “choice” in the way you seem to believe anyway. The public will not be able to decide whether to buy chlorinated chicken or hormone injected beef. I have yet to see a can of soup with “top half unchlorinated, bottom half….” or a box of chicken nuggets or a ready-meal curry with “British meat only” on the side. We subsidise our farmers for many reasons, not least that without farming the land turns to scrub, the hedges and ditches… Read more »

j humphrys
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j humphrys

Johnson’s regime seems to be aiming at no deal at all, while keeping the “brexiteer” embers glowing nicely.
Weirdly, they have also crossed paths with the USA’s security apparatus, which views Huawei as a threat to the West in general ( being a Chinese Communist Party company). The “UK” is now Out of the European Union, not inside. It is therefore negotiating from a position far weaker than at any time since Heath grovelled to be let in. Will Cymru now pay a heavy price for this? We shall see.