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.”
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.
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.”