(Title Image: Cardiff University)
Yesterday, the Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford (Lab, Cardiff West), updated AMs on how matters were progressing on Brexit.
Saying the Welsh Government gave a “modest welcome” to the Chequers Agreement – because it effectively conceded to a Customs Union with the EU – he noted that there remained a number of practical questions on how some of the proposals would be implemented – in particular, the Irish border.
He also made a withering attack on the Prime Minister:
“Every millimetre she (Theresa May) edges towards the ground she needs to occupy to conclude a deal with the EU, she provokes a stream of abuse from the irreconcilables in the European reform group. Every time she makes a hopeless concession to the Europhobic wing of her party, it guarantees that she loses the support of those remainer Tories whose support she needs to get a Chequers-based deal through the House of Commons.”
– Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford AM
Nevertheless, he issued a stark warning that a “No Deal” was both unthinkable and unworkable.
Darren Millar AM (Con, Clwyd West) wrote off much of the statement as a “diatribe”. He saw it as another round of Project Fear. The Tories would continue to support the Prime Minister as she seeks to strike a deal and so much progress has been made that a deal is possible “within weeks”.
Steffan Lewis AM (Plaid, South Wales East) focused on the technical aspects of whether there will be a customs union or whether the UK will be part of the Customs Union.
He believes the Irish border issue will come to a head in the coming weeks and called for the Welsh Government to mitigate any effects a “hard border” in the Irish Sea will have on Wales, as well as an often neglected topic in this debate – medicines; an issue he has close personal experience with.
“One aspect that I think is missing from the statement today is the question of contingency planning in the Welsh NHS…..I declare an interest as somebody who’s currently benefitting from treatment on the national health service, and the treatment that I personally have received through chemotherapy—I understand that those are distributed across the EU via Munich and are sourced from around the world.”
– Steffan Lewis AM
In response to a question from Jane Hutt AM (Lab, Vale of Glamorgan), the Finance Secretary confirmed that a £50million Brexit mitigation fund has been taken from the Welsh budget and hasn’t come from the UK Government.