Theresa May’s latest surrender to the Brexit hardliners – ruling out any kind of customs union with the EU – will lead to even greater economic damage to Wales, and risks a hardening of the border with Ireland.
Welsh Labour MEP Derek Vaughan said:
“By ruling out any kind of customs union with the EU, the prime minister has swept yet more options off the table, leaving the UK Brexit negotiators with even less to work with as talks resume – and leaving our EU partners even more baffled.
“No to a UK-EU customs union means yes to a UK-Ireland customs border, and all the chaos and pain that would cause, and it also means the economic consequences of leaving the EU will be worse, leading to even more job losses and much lower GDP. With over 70% of Irish cargo currently passing through Wales a hard border would have a huge impact on Welsh ports.
“Theresa May has no mandate for such a reckless approach, either in parliament or in the country. In the referendum, people did not vote to lose their jobs and become worse off.
“That's why I believe there should be a public vote on the final deal."
Theresa May’s latest surrender to the Brexit hardliners – ruling out any kind of customs union with the EU – will lead to even greater economic damage to Wales, and...
Labour MEP Derek Vaughan is calling on the UK government to commission and publish economic assessments of how Brexit will impact Wales.
Mr Vaughan said: “The Welsh government has done a huge amount of work on the consequences of Brexit.
“However, the UK government is taking decisions about Brexit without assessing its impact on Wales. We are pushing ministers to put consideration of Welsh people and businesses at the heart of its decisions.
“Following the chaos and confusion of the sectoral impact assessments that weren’t, the Brexit department or, if it is incapable of doing so, the Treasury, must commission analysis on the consequences for each UK region and nation – and publish it. People and businesses throughout Wales have a right to know what government decisions will mean for their jobs, their livelihoods, their futures.
“The bottom line is we need to know what will happen to Wales outside the EU. It is now more than one-and-a-half years since the referendum, and ten months since the triggering of Article 50 – the government cannot allow the chaos, uncertainty and confusion around Brexit to continue. People and businesses in every part of our country need to know that the government is making decisions on the future with them in mind.”
In a letter to Brexit secretary David Davis, Labour MEPs write:
“Government ministers are in the process of taking decisions that will have long lasting and far reaching effects for our country – it is only right that those decisions are taken with an awareness of their likely impact.
“As regionally-elected representatives, we believe that it is imperative that an assessment is made of how the different possible paths open to the UK in the upcoming negotiations will affect families, businesses and communities in the British nations and regions - in particular the impact on jobs and the economy.
“Last year an impression was created that sectoral impact assessments of Brexit had been carried out by the Department for Exiting the EU. Based on reports by those who have seen the papers made available to parliament and subsequent clarifications, it would appear that this work has not been undertaken in sufficient detail. It was also recently revealed that the Treasury is refusing to publish documents relating to how a series of possible Brexit outcomes, including no deal, will impact the economy.
“We are therefore writing to you to request that the government produces a thorough impact assessment of the decisions that will need to be taken on Brexit, and crucially that these studies include an assessment of the impacts of Brexit on each nation and region of the UK. After the fiasco of the inadequate sectoral impact assessments, we insist on the need for full and comprehensive regional impact assessments – our constituents need to know the government is considering the impact of Brexit on their local area, and taking this into account in its negotiations.
“If the government is to be confident that it is taking the right decisions in implementing the outcome of the EU referendum, it must have an awareness of the likely impact of those decisions on all the nations and regions of the UK.
“What work has been undertaken across government on the regional economic impact of Brexit? And when will it be published? To date, we are not aware of any work of this nature having been undertaken by your department or the Treasury. If such work has been completed, we would invite you to share this work with the public to assist with the transparency of decision making. If no such work has been undertaken, we would ask you to commission and publish it as a matter of urgency.”
Labour MEP Derek Vaughan is calling on the UK government to commission and publish economic assessments of how Brexit will impact Wales. Mr Vaughan said: “The Welsh government has done...
Today the European Parliament voted in favour of progressing Brexit negotiations to phase two.
Welsh MEP Derek Vaughan said he accepts progress made but there is still a lot of work to be done.
"This preliminary deal leaves many details and questions unresolved, for example on how citizens' rights are to be enforced, whether their rights are protected if they move to another member state after the withdrawal date or their ability to work cross-border in the EU.
"It is also unclear how the UK with resolve the issue of a border with Northern Ireland. At present the UK has committed to an open border but also says the UK is leaving the EU's single market and customs union. These two positions appear to be in contradiction.
" David Davis has again proved himself a liability. Just days after the PM reached a stage one agreement with the EU he very nearly undermined negotiations by claiming that the UK Government may not even stand by the deal. This has not gone down well in the EU and therefore the European Parliament is demanding a quick withdrawal agreement that puts the UK's commitments on a legal basis.
"It has always been clear that the UK could not maintain all the benefits of EU membership after leaving the EU. Sadly the leave campaign made false promises and lied to voters. That's why I believe that there should be a public vote on the final deal."
Today the European Parliament voted in favour of progressing Brexit negotiations to phase two. Welsh MEP Derek Vaughan said he accepts progress made but there is still a lot of...
Welsh MEP says devastating impact of Brexit on poorer people gives cause for a public vote on the final deal
Labour MEP, Derek Vaughan’s message comes as think tank ‘The Resolution Foundation’ warns inflation and Brexit could see the poorest families £300 worse off in 2018.
“It is now clearer than ever that voters were fed lies by the Leave campaign. Brexit isn’t solving any of our problems, its exacerbating them,” said Mr Vaughan
“The pound is falling leading to higher prices in the shops, and we will lose vital EU funding for Wales which helps thousands of people into training and jobs.
“As our economy falters and public finances worsen, the Chancellor has admitted a Brexit 'no deal' will mean less money for NHS and social care, and now we hear our poorest families will be worse off financially.
“It is especially hard to stomach this news when the Tories have frozen pensions and we hear the PM is spending £250m on preparations for a possible ‘no deal’ EU result.
“Voters were promised there would be an easy deal, with all the benefits of EU membership, without any of the responsibilities. It’s clear to everyone now that this was never going to be the case. We need a public vote on any deal that is reached, a vote with all the facts on the table.”
Welsh MEP says devastating impact of Brexit on poorer people gives cause for a public vote on the final deal Labour MEP, Derek Vaughan’s message comes as think tank...
Brexit threatens to quash plans to bring high-quality internet to public spaces across Wales
The European Parliament today backed a scheme to bring WiFi connectivity to public spaces such as parks, squares and public buildings across Europe. The agreement, dubbed WiFi4EU, will bring high-quality internet to 6000-8000 communities across Europe.
Labour MEP for Wales Derek Vaughan said he was pleased to see the Parliament vote in favour of the initiative, but is worried that Brexit will mean Wales misses out.
“All Welsh people should have access to good-quality WiFi connections, no matter where they live or how much they earn.
“This project would allow local communities to set up in state-of-the-art infrastructure in train stations, parks, libraries, hospitals or any other public spaces and would benefit both residents of and visitors to local communities across Wales.
“Wales would benefit hugely from this initiative, but Brexit may render us ineligible.
“This is just one example of what we stand to lose due to Brexit. Farmers stand to lose millions in CAP funds, universities stand to lose millions in research funding, Wales will lose EU funding for infrastructure, not to mention EU protections for workers’ rights and women’s rights.
“That’s why the Tory Government has been stalling on providing details about the negotiations and exactly what they expect from any deal with the EU post Brexit. They know any deal will be worse than what we have now.”
The first call for projects is expected to be launched towards the end of 2017 or early 2018.
Brexit threatens to quash plans to bring high-quality internet to public spaces across Wales The European Parliament today backed a scheme to bring WiFi connectivity to public spaces such as...
It is welcome that in that last year all of the major political parties have come to embrace the need for a proactive industrial strategy. Unfortunately, this has come because leaving the European Union, a huge hi-tech market place of 500 million people, now means that without Government intervention British manufacturing may suffer greatly without access to the Single Market and the customs union.
News that Nissan is investing in its plant in Sunderland is excellent. Seven thousand jobs are at that plant and a further 30,000 jobs in the local supply chain. However, Nissan has been clear that they will stay if the Government will guarantee tariff free access to the Single Market or compensate them if tariffs are imposed. The Government says that may be able to get this access for specific industries, but the President of the Commission has said that he will not let the UK treat the Single Market like a “buffet”, suggesting there will not be opt-ins for individual industries. The upshot of this is that the Government may end up being in a position of paying Nissan’s tariffs for it. Which means that money that could be spent on teaching our kids, treating our elderly and defending our country will go to Nissan’s HQ in Tokyo. It also raises the question about whether this approach is sustainable, realistically the Government will not be able to do this for every business. We know that companies do not think that is a risk worth taken after the reduction of the number of engines made in the Ford plant in Bridgend down to 125,000 from 250,000 previously, showing that they are reducing their reliance on the UK. We need to make sure Airbus remain committed, not just for the next few years but for decades to come, with their factory in Broughton.
The most likely outcome of a chaotic Brexit where we do not get the deal we need is steady decline. The big companies based here will slowly reduce their plants and reliance on a UK base will transfer to EU countries where they can boost their profit margins. The Government will try and stave this off with sweetheart deals that will be very expensive to the taxpayer, this will ensure that a few companies stay, but these will become more and more difficult to hold on to and the EU may begin to feel that our state help is undercutting EU industry and begin to raise tariffs.
By staying in the Single Market and creating a proactive industrial strategy we would avoid this problem and be able to build a manufacturing base in the UK that not only survives but thrives.
It is welcome that in that last year all of the major political parties have come to embrace the need for a proactive industrial strategy. Unfortunately, this has come because...
Even with everything that is happening in the UK at the moment my work in the European Parliament continues. This is for the simple reason that while the UK continues to pay into the EU budget and while Wales still receives EU funding it is important that there are people in the Parliament who can go in to bat for Wales, even as we negotiate the process of leaving.
So, it was a pleasure to vote for a proposal that will allow young people to access a transcontinental railcard free of charge. This will provide an opportunity for young people, whatever their background, to travel across the continent. This is a simple proposal with a small cost that will help young people all over Europe travel and expand their horizons.
All over Europe there is so much to see and do, from the streets of Lisbon to the islands of Stockholm, and people often say they wished that they’d travelled more in their lives. This is the European Union offering something tangible to every single young person. Given the timescales it is unlikely we will see the benefit, but you must vote for a proposal on its merits rather than out of spite.
This pass will be on top of the other benefits that the EU has provided to young people, through the Erasmus+ scheme which allows students to easily arrange exchanges and presents other funding opportunities.
Universities also gained massively from the EU, with every University in Wales being involved either in an EU funded project or having had EU funding invested in their infrastructure. For instance, the backing the EU has given to the Menai Science Park linked to Bangor University. The EU has also invested in the young people of Wales who do not go to Universities, EU funding underwriting 100,000 apprenticeships.
We would do well to remember that while we voted to leave as a whole. Young people, our future, voted to remain. The Government needs to make good on its promise to underwrite the funding they benefit from. But, that pledge also raises questions. Where is the money going to come from? Will the Assembly have to cover this funding, and if so will it have to get a corresponding increase in its budget? How is the actual process going to work? I would add these questions to the 170 questions that Labour have submitted to the Brexit Secretary David Davies. It seems unlikely that the Government will be able to answer any of them, any time soon.
With the pound collapsing and household items missing from shop shelves the only thing that is clear is that this is a shambolic Brexit, and young people along with everyone else are paying the price.
Even with everything that is happening in the UK at the moment my work in the European Parliament continues. This is for the simple reason that while the UK continues...
“Brexit means Brexit”. But what does that really mean?
As we face the greatest economic challenge of our lifetimes in withdrawing from the European Union, we are also likely to see the unravelling of one of the biggest lies of the Leave campaign: that the UK could retain every benefit of the Single Market whilst at the same time not fulfilling its four key freedoms of movement in goods, services, capital and people.
Much discussion has been had in Wales over recent days around how the UK should continue its relationship with the Single Market.
Taking into account what happened in the weeks leading up to the referendum and the messages given to politicians when we spoke to voters on the doorstep, there are no easy answers. Clearly, immigration and the wish of people to “take back control”, were two of the key factors that delivered the vote to leave the EU. Equally, unrealistic expectations were fed by Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and others who claimed we could have our cake and eat it when it came to exactly what the end game of Brexit will look like.
There are three main Single Market options on the table and it is worth exploring each one in turn.
Firstly; ”full membership” of this single market, which no country outside of the EU has, is what we have now with tariff free trade, an active role in its decision making processes and an acceptance of the free movement of people to go with it. No other country in Europe has managed the task of securing full membership whilst simultaneously creating its own pick and mix menu of key commitments. Cherry picking parts of the existing deal and undermining the fundamental principles of the EU in the process is unlikely to go down well in the European Parliament nor with the other 27 Member States who have to agree with this deal.
Leading EU figures have already been crystal clear. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission confirmed this when he said: "There is a clear interlink as we made clear at the very beginning between the access to the internal market and the basic principles of the internal market - namely the free movement of workers and we are sticking to that position. So I cannot see any possibility of compromising on that very issue.”
Secondly, there is what is termed as “full access” to the Single Market which could also be described as the Norway or Switzerland option whereby we could trade freely in goods (though not services) but remain unable to restrict EU migration into the UK. The drawback, of course, is that we would be paying into the system and living by rules set by other countries and yet, not have any say on what those rules are or how the Market will operate.
Similarly, negotiating an exit deal that leaves us with something almost identical to what we had before, is not going to be popular with the 52% of the electorate who voted to leave.
This is the difficult and unedifying dead end that the UK Government finds itself in the position of having to resolve.
Finally there is simply “access” to the Single Market and this is the basic “take it or leave it” option. Essentially, having access to the marketplace in the same way that every other country around the world does, leaving us open to the imposition of tariffs on our goods as well as other restrictions and regulatory burdens to which we would not be able to influence at all. A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) or World Trade organisation (WTO) deal would exclude services which make up 80% of our economy and probably agriculture and fisheries, putting these sectors in peril.
Politics is not just about catch phrases or sound bites, it is about finding a way to get the best for the people you serve.
I would prefer the UK to have full membership of the EU as any other deal will be a worse option but this clearly would require a second referendum.
Full access is not perfect but given the terms upon which the public made their decision, it is the most realistically achievable deal.
Any agreement will stand or fall on its approach on EU migration which, let’s not forget is a two way street with almost as many UK citizens now residing in other Member States as EU citizens living here. An attack on the free movement of people would also jeopardise the rights of those from the UK who have chosen to study, work or live elsewhere in the EU, again, a vital question which the UK Government has continued to avoid answering. It is also the case that migrants from the EU to the UK pay one third more in tax than they take out in benefits and enable us to sustain key public services, including the NHS, and many sectors of our economy. The problems with the UK economy and feelings of disenchantment felt by voters is not because of immigration, it is down to austerity policy which led to insecure jobs, a lack of housing and poor services.
The pressure is on and the clock is ticking.
Now is the time for politicians of all parties to be honest with voters. They must admit we can maintain the benefits of being part of a huge single market but that entails paying into the EU budget and accepting the rules including free movement. Or we can leave the single market and damage our economy and peoples living standards.
A second class Brexit deal, and perhaps, the prospect of no real deal at all, will cause great damage to the Welsh economy and our way of life. A false step at this stage has the potential to wreak havoc on our manufacturing industries (especially steel, agriculture and automotive), discourage inward investment, damage our tax base and, with that, our ability to invest in our public services.
The UK Government and all politicians must quit the rhetoric and be honest with voters about the options.
“Brexit means Brexit”. But what does that really mean? As we face the greatest economic challenge of our lifetimes in withdrawing from the European Union, we are also likely...
“Brexit means Brexit” has been Theresa May’s mantra over the summer.
As a slogan it is completely meaningless, we would not accept an Education Secretary saying that “teaching means teaching” or the Home Secretary saying that “policing means policing”. I have been clear about my position that there should be another vote on the final terms of the deal. But, if we are going to limit the damage of leaving the EU, then we need a clear plan and we need to be clear about what we want and how we are going to get it. Although it has become clear Brexit does not mean there will £350 million a week extra for the NHS.
Theresa May has previously said that we were not going to get an “off the shelf deal” and that we should not be talking about “the Norwegian model, or the Swiss model” but a special British deal. Well, we already had that and it was rejected by the voting public. The Prime Minister needs to remember that she cannot just make demands and expect the EU to accept them all, there has to be some give and take. So actually looking at Norway and Switzerland can tell us a lot about what the EU is prepared to accept. Norway pays into the EU budget (more per head than the UK does), accepts the rules of the Single Market and allows the free movement of people.
The key choice in the negotiations will be whether the Prime Minister will be willing to keep the free movement of people (at least in principle) as the price for retaining full access to the Single Market. If she is not, then losing access to the Single Market is inevitable with all of the consequences that the Labour Party and major economic institutes have warned of.
The Centre for European Reform has pointed out that if we leave the Single Market the price of food could increase by 15% and even Vote Leave’s pet economist Patrick Minford said that the best case scenario outside of the Single Market would see Welsh manufacturing decimated. Whether we’re ready to pay these consequences is the national conversation we need to be having. One that will not be helped if the Government keeps to its refusal to keep the British Parliament properly updated on the negotiations on top of its refusal to give the representatives of the British people a say on the final deal.
The Government also needs to confirm that EU citizens who have already arrived will not be deported. They staff our NHS, pay their taxes and are less likely to use healthcare than UK citizens in the EU. The EU is not about to kick out UK citizens. Therefore, let’s be adults and get these negotiations off on the right foot by confirming that those EU citizens already here can stay. Pointless posturing won’t get us anywhere. The Prime Minister could relieve a lot of fears for families right across Wales. We can’t be saying to kids right across the country that Mum or Dad is about to be deported because some negotiation in Brussels did not quite work out. I found it deeply distasteful when Lord Pearson, a UKIP representative, suggested using EU citizens as “hostages”.
We can have a conversation about immigration without such revolting suggestions and removing that possibility would send the right signal about what Brexit actually means.
“Brexit means Brexit” has been Theresa May’s mantra over the summer. As a slogan it is completely meaningless, we would not accept an Education Secretary saying that “teaching means...
Welsh Labour MEP, Derek Vaughan, and Ynys Mon MP Albert Owen have said that the threat of Brexit to Welsh jobs is real following an article published today by Hitachi Chairman, Hiroaki Nakanishi. Warning that the UK leaving the EU would have a “big effect on jobs”, he pointed out that at the moment the UK was “the best base for accessing the whole European market of 500m people” but that if the UK left the European Union “the future investment case looks very different.”
Mr Nakanishi also laid out concerns that those advocating leaving “have no answer to how the UK could negotiate cost-free access to this huge market from a position outside it” and in the case of Hitachi, “we still have a European vision, and would be disadvantaged in pursuing it from the UK.”
Ynys Môn MP Albert Owen said
“The remarks by the Hitachi chairman are evidence of the negative impact Brexit would have on jobs, industry and communities across Wales and the UK.
Wylfa Newydd is the biggest proposed investment in Wales and will boost the local and national economy in terms of quality direct and indirect jobs, in the planning, construction and operation of Wylfa Newydd.
Hitachi moved its European HQ to the UK and made important investment decisions because we are currently an integral part of the single market and the UK has unrestricted access to that single market.
We have the potential to be world leaders in energy and transport because global companies such as Hitachi are willing to invest. Let’s not put that future investment at risk, and on June 23rd we can send a vote of confidence for future generations by voting Remain in the EU Referendum.”
Derek Vaughan MEP commented: “People have been asking for the facts. This is a boss of a major international company saying that they will slash investment in the UK if we leave the European Union. Welsh jobs will be on the line if we leave the European Union, this isn’t political scaremongering,
“It’s another unbiased, impartial business being honest about what the consequences would be for their company and by extension the Welsh economy. The leave crowd haven’t got a real answer to them beyond just asserting that everything will be alright on the night. They keep telling us the rest of the world will treat us better if we leave, well this is the world saying it’s a terrible idea.”
“Hitachi, who are investing in Wylfa Power Station in Anglesey and are bringing much needed employment to the area, have now joined a long line of companies with a big presence in Wales including General Electrics in the Valleys, Ford in Bridgend and Airbus in Broughton that have all said Brexit would be bad for the Welsh economy. Even the only major economist supporting Vote Leave Patrick Minford has admitted that if we left the EU manufacturing would be “eliminated” in Wales.”
“Mr Nakanishi was absolutely right to point out that those advocating leave have no idea what comes after Brexit. They don’t have a plan for the Welsh economy beyond empty slogans. If they did Hitachi and other businesses wouldn’t keep calling them out on it. Brexit is not a plan, it would be a suicide note for our steelmaking, automotive and other key industries.”
“190,000 jobs in Wales are connected to the Single Market. The Leave campaign have no plan to protect Welsh jobs, no map to deliver growth and new jobs in the Welsh economy and no real idea about how to deliver on the promises they’ve made. Mr Nakanishi is right to say “… jobs will be lost. This is the cold economic reality”, I would urge people to really look at whether Vote Leave have a plan for a post-Brexit economy that would justify ignoring the concerns of Welsh manufacturing or whether they are just playing Russian roulette with Welsh jobs and livelihoods.
Welsh Labour MEP, Derek Vaughan, and Ynys Mon MP Albert Owen have said that the threat of Brexit to Welsh jobs is real following an article published today by Hitachi...