1. ITV Report

Calls to protect Welsh manufacturing from no-deal Brexit

Credit: PA

The Welsh manufacturing industry need to be protected from a potential 'nightmare' no deal Brexit scenario, according to Unite Wales.

Mark Drakeford, who is responsible for leading the Welsh Government's Brexit negotiations, will meet with Airbus to discuss the challenges facing it's business as uncertainties remain about its future in Wales.

The failure of the UK Government to agree a Brexit deal has created huge uncertainty for businesses here in Wales. That's why it's critical for me to meet with Airbus management and workers, as well as other major employers, to discuss how we can bolster their industries in Wales against a potential hard-line, crash-out Brexit.

​Protecting jobs and creating good quality new ones is at the heart of my plan for the economy. We are at the mercy of powerful economic forces, but we are far from powerless. Manufacturing, steel production, automotive and aerospace are just some of the sectors which are vital to the healthy economic outlook of Wales, and I will lead on an industrial strategy which will build on the success of these sectors.

​In Wales we have a unique social partnership between trade unions, government and business. This is why I have placed a strong emphasis on taking forward the Fair Work Commission, promising to place a Social Partnership Act on the statue book and using the £5 billion of procurement to establish ethical standards of work, collective bargaining and a real living wage.

– Mark Drakeford AM, Finance Secretary

Many of the flagship manufacturing companies that we work with in Wales have given their views on the dangers that come with a bad Brexit. Airbus itself has very clearly outlined the massive disruption that would impact its business, if the UK leaves the single market and customs union without a transition deal. These warnings have been echoed by Ford and many other of our key manufacturers in Wales.

The Tory Brexiteers have foolishly written off these warnings as false prophecies, and continued to argue for a hard Brexit, even if this means no-deal. Hopefully, the grim reality will have dawned upon them this week, with the announcement that Schaeffler is closing its Llanelli plant. The company pointed to Brexit as being a key driver behind their decision. The Schaeffler announcement is clear evidence that Brexit is already damaging our economy. Unites worry is that much worse may lie on the horizon.

If the nightmare of a no-deal Brexit does materialise then the ramifications for Welsh manufacturing, and our economy, could be truly disastrous. You are potentially looking at unprecedented job losses in the tens of thousands that would devastate huge areas of our country. The damage it could cause to the Welsh economy would be very difficult, if not impossible, to recover from.

Our message to Theresa May and the UK Government, is that she can't allow Wales' economy to be trashed in order to placate the hard right of her own party. She has a duty as Prime Minister to protect the jobs and livelihoods of ordinary working people. This can only be achieved by the delivery of a jobs first Brexit that avoids the cliff edge of a no-deal.

– Peter Hughes, Unite Wales Regional Secretary