Senedd Bites #47: Brexit Blues

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Brexit deal “will leave Wales worse off”

The First Minister criticised the draft Brexit deal – which was agreed by EU leaders on November 25th – telling BBC Wales he was in no doubt that Wales would be worse off afterwards.

He said, “What we want to do is to make sure the European market, which is our biggest market, 60% of exports go there, 90% of our food and drink exports go there, that we don’t see new barriers put up between the market that we sell most of our goods in. That seems to me to be one of the daftest things that we could do.”

He also repeated that he saw it as difficult for the UK Prime Minister to get the deal through the House of Commons.

Brexit “poses a threat” to Welsh ports

In a follow-up to an earlier inquiry into preparations Welsh ports are making for Brexit, the Senedd’s External Affairs Committee said the Welsh Government weren’t doing anywhere near enough in preparation.

Committee Chair, David Rees AM (Lab, Aberavon) said: “If our worst fears of new delays and checks at Welsh ports like Holyhead and Fishguard are realised, Wales will need detailed plans to manage the fallout.

“That is why we were calling on the Welsh Government to publish details of any traffic management contingency plans it has, including outlining what new infrastructure spending may be required.”

End to direct farm payments pushed back

The Welsh Government will delay a planned scrapping of direct payments to farmers following a public consultation.

Originally, the Welsh Government intended to phase out the payments in 2020 in preparation for the end of the Brexit transition period. Direct payments will now continue into 2021.

In the longer-term, direct payments will be replaced with two funds focused on economic resilience and public good schemes (such as climate change related land management).

Council leader calls for local government funding formula revision

The leader of Pembrokeshire Council, Cllr. David Simpson, has asked the Welsh Government for a review of the local government funding formula after claiming Pembrokeshire was “penalised” for having the lowest council tax rates in Wales.

Part of the funding formula is based on average Band D rates and Pembrokeshire was estimated to have missed out of up to £10.4million because Band D bills of £994 were lower – despite a 12.% increase – than the £1,170 used in the formula.

The Welsh Government said, “We have worked hard to offer local government the best settlement possible in this ninth year of austerity and have made further allocations to mitigate most of the reduction councils had been expecting.”

Former AM appointed next Welsh Language Commissioner

Former Liberal Democrat AM, Aled Roberts, has been appointed the successor to Meri Huws as Welsh Language Commissioner by an independent panel. He’ll take over in March 2019 at the end of Meri’s seven-year term.

He said, “I have always been passionate about the Welsh language and have greatly enjoyed recently working with local authorities on their plans for Welsh medium education and assisting the Welsh Government with their ambitions for the future of Welsh in education.

Current Welsh Government proposals are for the position of Welsh Language Commissioner to be scrapped and replaced with a multi-member Welsh Language Commission, but the required legislation was still said to be “up in the air”.