1. ITV Report

First Minister: single market and customs union best for Welsh exports

First Minister Carwyn Jones has called on the UK Government to keep full access to the European single market after Brexit.

Launching a report on the issues faced by Welsh exporters, he also argued for a UK-EU customs union. He said that Wales would suffer more than the UK as a whole from a hard Brexit, with the automotive, chemicals, steel, electrical engineering and aerospace industries most at risk.

The Welsh Government claims that Brexit is putting at risk car workers' jobs, at places like the Ford engine plant in Bridgend. Credit: PA

The report highlights that nearly two-thirds of Welsh exports (goods not sold within the UK) are sent to the EU.

  • Goods worth £14.6 billion a year
  • 61% go to the European Union
  • Biggest markets are Germany and France

The United States is in third place, with the Irish Republic fourth. The Welsh Government argues that the first priority must be to protect existing European markets, however desirable it is to also increase trade with the rest of the world.

  • No new barriers for Welsh exports to EU
  • Full and unfettered access to Single Market
  • A transitional period with no arbitrary time limit
  • Full involvement of devolved governments in decisions

These hard facts underline what is at stake if the UK Government fails to get the right deal for the UK or we crash out of the EU without one.

I fundamentally disagree with the Prime Minister’s well worn phrase that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ and believe leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union would be hugely damaging for Welsh businesses and jobs.

Ministers in London have yet to show us any evidence of the benefits of leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union or how new trade deals would replace the benefits of access to the EU.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

In response, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies, who was a leading leave campaigner in the referendum on EU membership, has claimed that the First Minister should take responsibility for Wales being over-dependent on trade with the EU.

The First Minister has fostered the least diverse export economy in the UK, leaving Wales more reliant than any other nation on EU trade.

Looking to Carwyn Jones for answers about capitalising on global trade is akin to looking to Jeremy Corbyn for a coherent position on Brexit; neither of them have a clue.

– Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies AM