Senedd Bites #18: Brexit bust?

(Title Image: Cardiff University)

Welsh Government: “Wales must have EU single market access”

Last week, the First Minister launched the Welsh Government’s paper on trade after Brexit. Although accepting there were trade opportunities outside the EU, the EU remained Wales’ most important export market, with 61% of exports going to EU member states in 2016 – worth £8.9billion.

The First Minister repeated warnings that leaving the single market would “wipe out” the Welsh steel industry and seriously damage farmers livelihoods if a free-trade agreement with New Zealand resulted in increased lamb imports.

A separate report by Cardiff Business School warned that a “Hard Brexit” where the UK reverts to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules would cause the Welsh economy to contract by up to 10% – figures later backed by a UK Government report.

New regulations pave the way for closed road races

The Senedd has automatically passed new regulations which will allow organised motorsport races on Welsh roads.

The regulations were enacted in England in 2017, but became law in Wales on February 2nd. They mean road races will no longer need an Act of Parliament to be granted permission to close roads for racing events, with the World Rally Championship being the first to express interest in closing roads for Wales Rally GB in 2018.

DET refuses by-election invite

At last week’s edition of S4C’s Pawb a’i Farn, Culture Minister, Dafydd Elis-Thomas (Ind, Dwyfor Meirionnydd), refused a challenge from Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville-Roberts MP to stand down and trigger a by-election.

Elis-Thomas left Plaid Cymru in October 2016 and was appointed a Welsh Government Minister in the November 2017 reshuffle after months of speculation. His appointment effectively gave the Labour-led government a majority.

He said he was, “no turncoat” and would continue to represent his constituency “for as long as his health allows”.

“Culture change” needed at health boards

The Public Services Ombudsman has said Wales’ health boards need a “cultural improvement” if the year-on-year rise in complaints against them is to be reversed.

There was a 14% increase in complaints against health boards in 2017-18, while health boards run up bills of tens of millions of pounds relating to medical negligence.

A new law to extend the powers of the Ombudsman is currently going through the Senedd, and the current Ombudsman, Nick Bennett, said, “There needs to be a willingness and preparedness to listen to the experience of service users. Their feedback should be used as a free consultancy to ensure there is improvement in the way in which the public receives services.”

Report recommends against a “one-size fits all” post-Brexit rural policy

A report from the Public Policy Institute has called for a more localised approach to agricultural support post-Brexit in Wales, with particular concerns that rural north and mid-Wales stand to lose out the most as a result of leaving the EU.

The report also recommends the Welsh Government and farmers work with supermarkets and dairies to secure new markets for Welsh produce, citing a similar network set up in Exmoor and Dartmoor.