Welsh Government publish Brexit plan

Carwyn Jones, First Minister and Assembly Member for Bridgend (source: National Assembly)

By Adam George

The first Minister of Wales of Wales and the leader of Plaid Cymru have released a joint-plan for Brexit. Labour and Plaid are the two largest countries in Wales and they have come together to challenge the Tory’s “hard-Brexit”.

The white paper, outlining how a post-Brexit Wales may look, was launched by Leanne Wood and Carwyn Jones in London last week. The main demands of the paper are full single market access and migration to be linked to jobs.

The main priority of this paper is for Wales to remain in the single market. Speaking to Gair Rhydd, Leanne Wood stated that “In engaging with this process,”

“Plaid Cymru has prioritised the Welsh economy. We have done this because two thirds of all of our exports go to the European Single Market.”

The 64-page document, which also contained input from the Welsh Liberal Democrats, lays out a plan for Brexit which is similar to Norway’s links to the EU, with tariff-free access to markets and some possible limits on free movement of people.

The white paper suggests tariff-free access to the EU’s single market, possibly through membership of the European Free Trade Association.

Another key suggestion put forward by Jones and Wood is the idea of a balanced approach to immigration linking migration to jobs, with “properly-enforced” employment practices that protect all workers.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, the first minister said “We have offered a very commonsense approach to immigration where we say there is a freedom of movement – but to work.”

These proposals are in sharp contrast with the plans set out last week by the Prime Minister who said that the UK would have to leave the single market to regain control over immigration.

The proposals were met with strong criticism from the leader of Welsh UKIP, Neil Hamilton.

He stated “It’s not so much a white paper as a white flag of surrender to the EU before negotiations have actually started.”

The white paper was also dismissed by the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew Davies, who claims that the paper “shows blatant disregard for the wishes of the Welsh public”.

Last week the Supreme Court ruled that the Welsh Assembly does not have a legal right to be consulted by UK ministers triggering Brexit. The judges said that Article 50 cannot be triggered without it being put to Parliament.

However, they decided that assembly ministers have no right to veto the process to leave the European Union.

The Welsh Government had argued that if MPs did not vote on Article 50, which was the UK government’s original intention, it would undermine the basis for devolution.

Steffan Lewis AM, Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs, spoke to Gair Rhydd “Plaid Cymru will seek to table a Legislative Consent Motion in the National Assembly.

It is a simple matter of democracy that the devolved legislatures should have a role in commencing the process of leaving the EU.”

An UKIP assembly group spokesman said it welcomed the judgement on Article 50 and Parliament, and that any attempt to block Brexit would trigger an immediate general election:

“We say bring it on. It would be absurd for Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland to have a veto over triggering Article 50,” he said.

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