Warning PM's Brexit deal's bad for Wales

5 December 2018, 17:20 | Updated: 5 December 2018, 17:21

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The shadow Welsh secretary says it's "failing to give Welsh people the certainty needed to safeguard jobs".

Christina Rees claimed the term "frictionless trade" did not appear in the Government's political declaration, adding that the Withdrawal Agreement "does not even mention Wales".

 

But Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns hit back, arguing that Theresa May's deal "gives the certainty of access to the EU markets but it also gives us the new opportunities to strike trade deals around the world".

He added: "I'm optimistic about our prospects outside the EU, I wish that optimism was shared elsewhere."

Speaking at Commons Wales questions, Ms Rees said: "The Secretary of State has given his backing to an agreement that does not even mention Wales let alone protect workers' rights, environmental standards, consumer protections and living standards.

"Isn't the reality that this is a bad deal for Wales, failing to give Welsh people the certainty needed to safeguard jobs and livelihoods?"

Mr Cairns replied: "The deal that the Prime Minister has negotiated gives the certainty of access to the EU markets but it also gives us the new opportunities to strike trade deals around the world. I would say to her, I'm not sure what certainty a further referendum would bring, if that is her policy."

He added: "The Government's analysis shows that Government has negotiated the best deal available for Welsh jobs and the Welsh economy that allows us to honour the referendum and realise the new opportunities Brexit will bring."

Labour's Chris Elmore (Ogmore) said the viability of manufacturing relied on frictionless trade with the EU, adding: "The Prime Minister's deal gives us no assurances to Welsh businesses just buzzwords and more uncertainty."

His colleague, Owen Smith (Pontypridd), argued that Wales was going to be poorer and its GDP smaller if MPs voted for the deal.

SNP Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) claimed the Government was "using Brexit to further undermine devolution", adding that the Welsh Assembly voted to reject the Withdrawal Agreement on Tuesday night "as the Scottish Parliament will do this evening".

He said: "His Scottish colleagues are going around saying that that vote is needless. Does that not simply demonstrate the contempt that this Government and the Tories have always for the devolution settlement and they are now using Brexit to further undermine devolution."

Mr Cairns replied that Wales voted to leave the EU and the Government would continue to work with the Welsh Government in seeking a legislative consent motion to the Bill when it goes through Parliament.

SNP Tommy Sheppard (Edinburgh East) said two-thirds of Welsh exports went to the European single market, asking how "ripping" Wales out of the customs union and single market was going to improve business prospects.