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...
Welsh MEP Derek Vaughan today visited the EU funded Chwarae Teg’s Agile Nation 2 project in Cardiff which has received £8 million from the EU to support Welsh women’s career development as well as £2 million from the Welsh Government.
The project provides accredited training programs for women and works with businesses and organisations to develop and improve working practices, to ensure equality in the workplace.
Mr Vaughan said he was pleased to see European funding backing this worthwhile cause.
“If we look across workplaces in Wales, we can see that women are likely to be paid 20% less than men who are doing similar work. In addition, only 7% of women are in management positions compared to 11% of men.
“This project will help build the careers of 2,207 women and help 500 businesses over the next three years. The need for this is very real and it was great to speak to people who have directly benefitted from this support.
"The EU has been instrumental in legislating to protect women’s rights including in terms of maternity leave, pension provision and protection from violence and exploitation. If the UK left the EU these rights would be at risk.
Trish Chalk, the lead for the Agile Nation 2 project was clear about the importance of the project.
“ We were very pleased to welcome Derek Vaughan to our office today to meet participants on the Agile Nation 2 project. The first Agile Nation project helped nearly 3000 women and over 500 businesses, and we’re delighted to be continuing this work, to build a Wales where women achieve and prosper”
Welsh MEP Derek Vaughan today visited the EU funded Chwarae Teg’s Agile Nation 2 project in Cardiff which has received £8 million from the EU to support Welsh women’s career...
Today Barack Obama joined the very long list of world leaders and international experts who say the UK, Europe and the
world are better and safer with Britain inside the European Union. Mr Obama said that being in the EU makes Britain “even Greater” and “magnifies British strength”.
Derek Vaughan, Labour MEP for Wales said;
"When Barack Obama talks about the EU making Britain more influential and a great asset in tackling multinational challenges, including terrorism, he is speaking with almost eight years’ experience of being President of the most powerful nation in the world. I absolutely welcome his comments, if anyone knows about power and influence in the modern world, it’s him. No one in the Out Campaign has been at that top table. At least not for two decades.”
Mr Vaughan also said that our close friendship made Obama’s point important; “Americans fought and died for peace in Europe in the two World Wars and are one of our closest allies. Obama is showing the value of that friendship by being honest about his view that we can’t afford to presume that peace and prosperity will take care of themselves. Most crucially, he was speaking with “the candour of a friend”.
"The OUT Campaign has tried to argue that being in the EU somehow impedes our relationship with the US. Obama has made it clear this is utter nonsense. Looking at the trade figures for February we exported £3.7 billion to the US, and this was helped through EU-US co-operation such as the Transatlantic Economic Council and the Open Skies agreement between the EU and the US, we don’t need to leave the EU to trade excellently with the US, we already are doing so. The OUT campaign are trying to sell us something we already have. Obama’s intervention along with our ongoing military and intelligence co-operation shows that not only can we have both EU membership and this special relationship but that at the moment that’s exactly what we do have. Diplomatically and economically it’s the best of both worlds.”
“You just need to look at the people who’ve said we’re better off IN, General Petraeus, one of the key US Generals in Afghanistan said that leaving 'would only make our world even more dangerous and difficult to manage'.” Our European allies, the Prime Minister of New Zealand and the G8 have all made it clear that they think the UK leaving the EU would be bad for our economy, and by extension bad for their economies. As long ago as 2013 the Japanese Government made clear that the UK leaving the EU would make it less attractive for Japanese investment. In comparison to that you could fit the world leaders in favour of leaving in a Mini, and none of them are our friends. This disparity and the OUT campaign's shrill reaction to Obama’s comments, shows that the OUT Campaign are out of their depth and playing Russian roulette with our future.”
Today Barack Obama joined the very long list of world leaders and international experts who say the UK, Europe and the world are better and safer with Britain inside the...
Following the confirmation today by Vote Leave that they would like to see the UK out of the European Health Insurance Card scheme DEREK VAUGHAN MEP for Wales said that the proposed change would be a “worry” for Welsh tourists and punish those who fall ill abroad.
Following the confirmation today by Vote Leave that they would like to see the UK out of the European Health Insurance Card scheme DEREK VAUGHAN MEP for Wales said that... Read more
A recent survey published this week by the CBI which confirmed that 80% of its members want to stay in the EU is further proof that EU membership is good for Welsh businesses, employment and economic growth according to Welsh Labour MEP, DEREK VAUGHAN.
The vast majority of firms taking part in the poll by the UK’s biggest business lobbying group believe that remaining in the EU is in the best interests of wider economy with only 5% supporting withdrawal.
DEREK VAUGHAN MEP said:
“Over 190,000 jobs in Wales are linked to our trade with the EU which is the biggest single market in the world, allowing Welsh businesses direct access to 500 million potential customers.
“EU investment in research and development is also helping to drive forward the jobs of the future and supporting vital collaborative technological breakthroughs with our universities and world-leading businesses here in Wales.
“A vote to leave would put all of that at risk and the CBI survey send an unambiguous message – being in the EU is better for business, jobs and the long-term prosperity of the UK and it is in our interests to remain a part of that.”
Details of the CBI Survey can be found here.
A recent survey published this week by the CBI which confirmed that 80% of its members want to stay in the EU is further proof that EU membership is good...
Welsh Labour MEP, DEREK VAUGHAN, welcomed the UK Government's belated application today for EU funding to help victims of flooding, but warned that it must go directly to affected communities.
Derek Vaughan MEP, Labour's European Parliament spokesperson on regional development, said:
"Why has the government left it until the day before the deadline to apply for the EU Solidarity Fund? Labour MEPs have been demanding they do this for months, and finally, at the last minute, they have applied.
"Ministers must now ensure this goes directly to those communities that have been affected by the floods, including those in Wales, not to pay costs the government has already run up.
"Many areas of Britain were badly affected by the storms - thousands of homes were flooded, lives have been disrupted. The economic impact on the UK is estimated at £5 billion.
"The solidarity fund shows how important the EU can be in helping communities, and the sooner the victims of the flooding receive this money, the sooner they can get on with the job of rebuilding and recovering."
Welsh Labour MEP, DEREK VAUGHAN, welcomed the UK Government's belated application today for EU funding to help victims of flooding, but warned that it must go directly to affected communities. Derek...