Prospect of no-deal Brexit 'disastrous' for Wales, First Minister says

Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford made the comment at a press conference. Credit: Welsh Government

A no-deal Brexit would be "disastrous" for Wales, the First Minister said today, as the deadline looms for an agreement to be reached.

Marl Drakeford said it is the UK Government's responsibility to ensure that a trade deal is agreed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen are in last-ditch talks to thrash out the UK's future relationship with the EU.

If no consensus can be found by Sunday, then the pair have agreed that negotiations should go no further and both sides should prepare for no-deal - something that Mr Johnson has warned is now "very, very likely."

Some of the main concerns for Wales would be the futures of farming, fishing and manufacturing.

Speaking at a Welsh Government press conference on Friday, Mr Drakeford said that a no-deal outcome would leave Wales "exposed".

He told journalists: “We are more exposed, as the report published today demonstrates, to a no-deal exit than almost any other part of the United Kingdom.

“A higher percentage of our exports goes to Europe than the United Kingdom as a whole, we have a higher proportion of our economy in manufacturing than any other part of the United Kingdom, we rely on being able to export our agricultural products, safe and fresh to other parts of Europe.

“If there are tariffs or non-tariff barriers in the path of that trade, that will inevitably make the difficult job of gaining markets and building up business even more difficult.

“The answer is for this United Kingdom government to deliver on what it said.

"A year ago today, the Prime Minister was stomping around the country, claiming that he had an oven-ready deal.

“Well what’s happened to the oven and what’s happened to the deal? It’s their responsibility to make sure that we are not left in that position.”

Watch: Mark Drakeford's comments on a potential no-deal Brexit

It comes after the cross-party Welsh Affairs Committee says the UK Government should provide clarity immediately and publish contingency plans to enable ports and businesses to plan properly.

Stephen Crabb, the MP who chairs the committee, told ITV Wales that he has serious concerns about the potential impact brought about by the end of the Brexit transition.

"The truth is that Wales is far from ready for all of the changes that are going to happen at the end of his Brexit transition phase at the end of December, regardless of whether a deal is struck or not," he said.

"We're particularly concerned about the impact that will have on the ports that link Wales and the United Kingdom with the Republic of Ireland and therefore the EU."