15/03/2017 The Wales Report


What next for Wales on the Brexit journey? And is there a role for Ukip once the UK leaves the EU? The Wales Report speaks to the Assembly group leader Neil Hamilton.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 15/03/2017. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



The Brexit process will soon be under way, with a brand-new question


mark over the future of the United Kingdom.


Will Ukip have a role in Wales after Brexit?


We speak to Assembly group leader Neil Hamilton.


And we look at the very long road to local government


reorganisation in Wales - will the latest


Good evening and welcome to The Wales Report.


be formally under way, and, as Westminster gave


its blessing to that, the Scottish government


was demanding the right to hold a second referendum on independence.


Lots of talk about Scotland and Northern Ireland


and the future shape of the UK, but very little about how Wales


Remember, you can have your say, join in the debate on Twitter.


So, by the end of the month, the letter will be sent,


and Article 50 will be triggered, starting the formal process of


At the same time, we now have the prospect of a second


The potential consequences of Brexit are becoming ever more apparent.


Theresa May has two massive constitutional issues to deal with.


On the one hand, the UK's withdrawal from the EU, and on the other hand,


now the real potential of a second Scottish independence referendum and


the possibility of Scotland leaving the UK. Now, already we know that


Wales wasn't really featuring high up on their list of priorities for


the UK Government, so now they've got this other massive issue to be


dealing with, as I say, in terms of bandwidth, it leaves Wales in a more


vulnerable position. So where does Wales fit into this


constitutional jigsaw? The First Minister, Carwyn Jones,


has insisted that the UK's nations are "stronger together",


but Plaid Cymru says any move towards independence in Scotland


needs to start a debate If the UK ceases to exist, we need


to be thinking about what is best for Wales. It is time that we had a


far-reaching national conversation about where we want to head as a


nation. The people of Wales will ultimately decide on our


constitutional future. But we cannot come to decisions about where we


need to head unless we have the conversation. And I think what's


happening in Scotland is a stark reminder for us that we can't just


float as a nation. We have to be clear about where we are heading.


And I look forward to having that conversation in the months and years


ahead. And this is certainly a story that will run and run when the


starting gun is fired with Article 50 being triggered at the end of the


month. There is growing discussion about leaving without a deal, the no


deal deal. If the UK leads without a deal, we


talk about the UK crashing out of the EU, and this would have huge


economic and political implications for the UK as a whole and also for


Wales. So it would have huge trade implications, and we would see the


imposition of tariffs, we would see customs checks with cost,


inconvenience, time implications. As I say, for the UK as a whole and for


Wales. Joining me to discuss all this


is the Conservative MP and chair of the Welsh Affairs Select


Committee David Davies. And the Labour AM and former


MEP Eluned Morgan. Thank you for joining me. Just a


start with you, what we've seen over the last couple of days is Brexit a


step closer and that has led to Nicola Sturgeon saying, well, there


will be another independence referendum in Scotland soon. Do we


just accept in Wales we are an afterthought in all this? We're an


afterthought. The fact is, Brexit will impact on Wales more than any


other part of the UK, I think. Certainly financially will receive


?680 million a year from the EU. And the fact is, 67% of our trade and


goods goes to the EU. Those facts might not be in dispute, but a


Westminster point of view, my point is, they will be looking at Scotland


and thinking, that could lead to the break-up of the UK, they will be


looking to Northern Ireland, questions over the relationship and


the Borders. Even Nicola Sturgeon has said there is scope here for


negotiation. If we went for a softer Brexit, one that meant we could have


access in the single market, then there would be a reconsideration of


that situation in Scotland. That's the situation we want for Wales. We


want as close as possible a relationship with the single market.


So it now depends on what Theresa May can negotiate but she has to


understand so we're relying on Nicola Sturgeon getting the best


deal for Scotland, and then the best deal for Wales? We have a common


interest in that we both want to see as closer relationship as possible


with the EU in of access to that single market. -- as close a


relationship. So we could see Nicola Sturgeon saying we will hold the


second referendum for independence and that might soften her approach


to Brexit or make Brexit a bit softer. How would you respond to


that? I think it's inevitable Nicola Sturgeon was always going to find


another reason for calling a referendum, another one. She holds


the principle that if you don't get the answer you want in one


referendum, you hold another and another and another. I don't think


it was a surprise to me or anyone else I know that she found another


reason for doing it. As far as a close relationship with Europe is,


we want a good relationship with the rest of the European Union and we


want to sort out issues like those who have come over here, like my


wife, for example, to make sure they can stay, to stop all this


scaremongering. So all these things Nicola Sturgeon, these reasonable


requests cheesemaking, are things we have signed up to anyway. Would


Scotland leaving the EU be -- leaving the UK be paving way for


Brexit? There was with going to be a second referendum, whether it was


over Brexit or something else the government did that they didn't


like, I don't think the two up. But my question to you is, would it be


the price worth paying? I don't accept that the link between the


two. There was going to be a second referendum regardless of what


happened over Brexit. Even if Britain had voted to stay in the EU,


Nicola Sturgeon would have found an excuse to have a second referendum,


so there was always going to be won, and if she loses this, there will


probably be a third and a fourth as well. So there was with going to be


a possibility, not even a possibility, a certainty, a


likelihood, of another referendum. And it is ironic that the arguments


Nicola Sturgeon makes to stay in the EU are the very arguments she should


be making for Scotland to stay within the union, but that is a


decision for the Scots to make. We have to respect that, just as I hope


Nicola Sturgeon respects the fact most people voted to leave the


European Union. What we have been hearing from Theresa May and Philip


Hammond about the negotiations with the rest of the EU, they have said,


well, if we don't get a deal we are happy with, we will just leave. They


will fall back on the well of trade organisation rules and return to a


low tax, low regulation economy. What would you make of that if that


were to happen? I think that would be catastrophic, not just the Wales


but for Britain. We would have a change in the social model we have


because you can't fund education and health the way we do at the moment


unless you have a tax base from which you can tax. But they would be


arguing we would attract more businesses and tax that way. Trade


with the EU is crucial to our success, and however many trade


deals we do with the rest of the world, the fact is, people trade


within close props that -- proximity to each other. They are more


comfortable that way and it makes more economic sense. So we can dream


about signing up to trade agreement that may or may not come about, and


don't forget, we export much more than we import, so it is other


countries that will do well out of trade deals with Britain in future.


Our key objectives should now be to make sure we get free and unfettered


access to that EU market, because if we don't, there will be a price to


pay in terms of jobs in Wales. Is there a danger here that by


concentrating on what they would do in the event of not being happy with


the negotiations, that Theresa May isn't allowing enough scope to have


those kinds of discussions about what trade should look like with the


rest of the EU after Brexit? I think the real danger here is that all of


these voices offside, whether from Nicola Sturgeon or people in the


Labour Party who don't like the result of this, saying, OK, we will


have another vote in Parliament if we don't get the deal we want, but


we need to go into these negotiations making it clear that if


we don't get a trade deal, we will walk away and trade under the WTO


rules. And frankly, I don't see anything wrong with a low tax, low


regulation economy. But the trouble with that is, you have no mandate to


implement it. You don't have a general election, which would need


to happen to be able to press ahead with such a fundamental change in


the UK's economy. I think people would be quite happy if we were able


to reduce taxes, but we would still want to be able to deliver public


services in the highway we do. And look at Wales. Shorter NHS waiting


lists, better exam results. We are already delivering better results


than under 18 years of Labour. But you are proposing to cut back? We


are not proposing to cut back at all. If it attracts business in, it


will increase the tax revenue we have, and I thought Labour was


signed up to reducing red tape just as we are, so I am very surprised


about that. If they want to go out and campaign on the basis of very


high taxes and high regulation, that's up to them. What you think


will be happening over the next few weeks? How this will play out? We


want to keep environmental protection, social protection, but


also, if you look at corporation tax, we would have come in under


Ireland. We would have to reduce hours from 19% down to 12%, their


level, which is 100 billion out of the economy. That's how much we


spend on the NHS in this country. Let's get real. We are talking about


a fundamental change in the way our society is run, and as you say,


nobody has voted for that. Plenty more to talk about and plenty more


time to talk about it for the moment. But right now, thank you for


But right now, thank you for your company.


The party which played a key role in the UK's decision


Since winning seats in the Assembly elections last year,


the group has made its mark, with disputes, resignations and


So with Brexit another step closer, what next for Ukip in Wales?


Earlier, I spoke to Ukip's Assembly group leader, Neil Hamilton.


First of all, we have just seen Brexit will now be launched by the


end of this month, and that almost immediately led to Nicola Sturgeon


calling for a second independence referendum. Would you look at all


the constitutional up the -- upheaval caused by Brexit, is that


what you were anticipating? It is a game of gesture politics by Nicola


Sturgeon. She knows Theresa May won't grant her a second referendum


and she's just trying to back her into a corner. I would just call her


bluff. Because I think the referendum vote would be more


emphatic to remain part of the UK if there was a second one, particularly


now we are going to leave the EU. Scotland does four times as much


trade with England as it does with the rest of the EU. But would it be


a price worth paying hypothetically if Scotland left the UK. Would it be


a price worth paying for Brexit? That's a matter for the Scottish


people. I'm in favour of maintaining the integrity of the UK! Indulge me


for a moment. If that's what Scottish people want, then so be it,


but I don't believe there is a majority for independence in


Scotland and I think there's an even bigger majority against independence


in Scotland once we've left the EU than previously. I'm going to ask


you to indulge me in another hypothetical situation if you may.


What Scotland the UK and then Northern Ireland, they left the UK


as well? Where would that leave Wales politically? Well, there's


even less demanding Wales for independence and there is in


Scotland or Northern Ireland. -- demand in Wales. If you look at the


vote on the EU it's pretty much the same as in England, if not even


more. So I think the political culture in Wales is much more


reliance I think we would survive very happily. Do you think that


would change if it was a United Kingdom of Wales and England,


without the other Celts, if I can put it like that? Well, it would be


more lonely in a sense, and I would regret that. It would also mean


England would be overwhelmingly the larger partner than it is now.


England now is 85% of the UK and if it was just Wales and England, then


3.1 million people against nearly 60 million, Wales would be much more of


an appendage. But given we have a devolution settlement, I don't see


anything very much would change. With that devolution settlement and


Ukip's place in Wales after Brexit, where do you fit into it? Is there a


danger you can win the war on Brexit but then lose the peace by becoming


largely irrelevant? No, we are still on 15% in the polls nationally in


the UK. We have our group and make a lot of noise in the Assembly... You


might generate a few headlines for various reasons but what are you


achieving in Wales? We are an opposition party. We are not part of


the government so we can't push through legislation but we'll here


to stay and our role is to grow stronger in the system and become a


bigger political force to be reckoned with. But if you look at


the recent by-election in Stoke and the leaders who stood there, the


problem was Brexit wasn't a big issue there. It was fought on local


services, NHS, schools, local political issues, and on those


issues, voters don't care or know what Ukip is about there. Is that


the problem? Selling I think we should have concentrated on policies


that were closer to people. Or should have put more in the NHS.


That is the sort of policy pledge I will make in Wales because we are


they any party that says things like that. For the local elections, you


will be pitching it as a foreign aid issue which isn't a devolved to


Wales, let alone councils. The point is life is about choices and the


government spends our money, in certain ways, so we think it would


be better spent in other ways. Wouldn't it be better for you to


concentrate on issues where Welsh councils are able to enact change,


rather than something that is a matter for the UK government? We


will do that too. For example, ?300 off the average electricity bill if


we scrap subsidies for wind farms. Ukip is the only party putting that


policy forward. We will put more money into the pockets of working


people, that is what we are about. Looking at the council elections, we


saw the acting chair or former acting chair, saying he thinks the


party in Wales is unravelling but he doesn't think the campaign will get


off the ground. Is that a fair reflection? I know Chris Smart very


well. He left in frustration because of internal rows over Arron Banks.


He's no longer remember of Ukip. I think under Paul Nuttall's


leadership we will refocus our attention on local issues, Welsh


issues in Wales. Paul Nuttall said you're put in place a coordinator


for local elections. Has that happened? Well, there will be


nationally a coordinator for local elections in the UK. In Wales, Ukip


is a small party, in terms of membership. Each branch will be


putting up candidates in their own local government area, but there


won't be any central direction, as such, although we will give them


every possible assistance we can. Is there a danger you won't get very


many candidates, therefore not much support? And what will happen when


Ukip is Brexit is dwindled into irrelevance? Our party membership is


keeping up. We're still at the same point in the polls as we were in


general collection. So, your stagnating. We've concentrated all


our efforts on winning the referendum, which we did. We


wouldn't have won without Ukip. And we have four years between now and


the next local elections, three years until the general election. So


there is lots of work for us to do, and we will repair the deficiencies


of the past in terms of organisation in Wales. The other political


parties in Wales have come together to put out a statement opposing


racism in the upcoming elections. You haven't signed up to that. Why


is that? We wanted to add a paragraph. The letter as Rafter by


the level government read as though people were concerned about


immigration, therefore they were racist. The majority of those people


are not racist, and we wanted to put in a paragraph to reflect that only


refused to do so, so we put out our own statement. They say it reflects


badly on the party. Was it a stitch up? It reflects badly on the Labour


government in Wales which refuses to accept that uncontrolled immigration


has had a disastrous effect on people with low wage incomes and


Ukip will stand up for them! Brexit may be dominating


the headlines, but in a matter of weeks we'll be going into another


round of local elections in Wales. Before the political parties


define their campaign themes, there's time to consider how local


government - the councils who deliver public services -


should be reformed. It's been three years


since the Williams Commission recommended cutting the number


of councils in Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones said


at the time, "The status Since then, proposals


for mergers have come and gone, and there's been a local government


bill, but still no clarity on what the future of local


government will look like. Councils are responsible for the


services that impact on our daily lives. From roads to rubbish. In


recent years, they've been under considerable financial strain. It's


never been as bad as it is now. And none of us came into politics to cut


things, to close things. It is a completely new ball game. Councils


used to be about providing services, building leisure centres, building


homes for elderly and infirm, really putting that fabric into society.


Well, we haven't been able to do that for a very long time. It has


been a long and bumpy road. While these cuts have been implemented,


there is the additional confusion of local government reform. There's


never a good time to do local government reorganisation. If you


could have been a worse time, it would be been hard. We've had


responses of budget cuts and then have these discussions which caused


uncertainty in the sectors of the last few years has been a very poor


time to have those discussions about reorganisation. It's been like a


fairground ride. The continual shifting sands have meant we haven't


been able to look long-term, we haven't been able to look as


strategically as we have done. The killings with -- beginning with the


Williams Commission which called for ten, 11 or 12 authorities in Wales,


attempts by the Welsh government to drive through change have frequently


been frustrated. First, there were voluntary mergers, a few councils


propose joining forces with their neighbours, only to have their


proposals thrown out by the Welsh government. Then another diversion.


The public services Minister at the time attempted to propose change


with forced mergers which turned out to be a dead-end. Over the border,


the UK government decided reorganisation was wasteful, and a


pointless, expensive exercise. We've wasted three years in Wales


discussing structures and merging of authorities said there has been a


waste of time and effort. We now need to look forward to designing


structures will be the pit-mac and place for many years. So when you


strategy. As listening exercise with councils across Wales. The idea is


to keep the 22 local authorities but design ways to deliver key services


on a regional basis. Sometimes, you can get caught up in a conversation


that takes you down a dead-end, and I think that what has happened


previously. The journey has moved on. And we're going to make it work.


It seems Welsh councils are much happier with the new approach but


will it be radical enough to put public services on a sustainable


footing? Either way, there is still a very long road ahead. It's taken


many years of discussion and thousands of pages to get to the


point now where we're not still clear how authorities will work


together on key services. There are some areas where the Welsh


government dictated this is where you have to work together, other


areas are open for discussion. We could have got to this point a


number of years ago. I'll be discussing the way forward


with local government consultant Jeff Jones


and Professor Catherine the University of South Wales,


and local government consultant and former


council leader Jeff Jones. We could have been at this .3 years


ago. Has it been a waste of time? Quite possibly and we've spent a


long time talking about local government and its functions and we


have possibly wasted three years but who knows, we are where we are,


there's a new White Paper, local authorities are being consulted,


there is a new agenda around democracy and this is the first time


we have seen what local government is supposed to be about what it is


going to be about in the future. There is a regional agenda pushed in


this White Paper which is new and different. We've spent so often


talking about reorganisation but people at home will care nothing


more than getting bins picked up, leisure centres etc. It's difficult


and what people forget is local government doesn't raise a great


deal of money. How does this corporation work? If you set how can


local government improve your services, the Assembly needs more


money, where does it get it from? Westminster. We have Brexit. Even


without Brexit, the Tory government wants to reduce the public sector by


36%. What worries me is you look at the long-term economic forecast


within each local authority and there are some pretty awful cuts


coming after next May's election. The reorganisation does not address


that. That's a bleak outlook. Is there anything that working together


and saving some money, will it impact on this? You look at 1996


when these authorities will put in place, that a gender is still there.


Under this White Paper, authorities can merge if it works for the


citizen. Those democratic ideas still exist. There's a regional


agenda, and working together, health and social care are going to be


working together under the regional partnership boards, the educational


consortia, so there is an attempt to regionalise things and the issue for


me how does that pan out in terms of governance? Will there be the


appropriate governance structures for those? Isn't there a problem of


accountability? When we look at the councils coming together and working


to regional levels, the question I put to the local government


secretary in November last year was if my school is being closed but my


council has merged with the next three neighbouring councils, who do


I hold to account? Who do I vote out? And there isn't an answer, is


there? There is the problem of disillusionment. If your local


councillor and someone says will you fight to keep the school open? They


say it isn't anything to do with them. This is organiser to regional


level. The result will then be you have fragmentation of politics,


which we have seen in May. Groups are being set up in various


authorities, not based on the critical parties but on localities.


It is identity politics coming back into government. The problem is


trying to balance that lack of accountability or loss of


accountability with the savings and the positive element. It is a


difficult one for councils. The themes in the White Paper about


sustainability, integration of services, it is about working


together for the future, and the paper is titled resilience and


renewed local government, but it is renewed public services. What it


builds and there is the participation of the citizen much


more in developing and building their areas. Councils are being


renewed. One of the other aspect of this White Paper that hasn't been


mentioned is that councils can decide whether they want to continue


with the system in place for 20 years, which is a cabinet system or


go back to the committee system. Local authorities in Wales and


councillors understood that system so there is a change for people


along the way. Is there another issue here that the Local Government


Association in Wales is saying over the next decade or so social care


will double in terms of cost and any savings or changes will be dwarfed


by that. Is that the main problem? We are living in an ageing


population. I'll be using social care in the future. The problem is


local government is the agency, along with the health boards that


deliver social care. At the end of the day, they are an agency on


behalf of what? You need the money, and my theory is and I've said this


previously is that social care is a national issue. You've got to get


the finance right. That might mean we all have to pay more into social


care but to actually say it's up to the local government or Assembly, it


is up to all of us to provide a social care future. Plenty did -- to


discuss consomme. Thank you both. If you'd like to get in touch


with us about what's been discussed tonight,


or anything else, email us at [email protected],


or follow us on social media, Rhod Gilbert's enrolled


in building school. That's really good


for the first attempt. Not going to cry, are you?


Oh...I'm welling up. But will he survive on


a real building site? Do you kick people off


pretty quickly if they're not up to scratch?


Er, yes, we do, yeah. Pressure's on.


Right, get the bucket.


Arwyn Jones presents a current affairs series taking a look at issues that matter in Wales and asks decision makers about the consequences of their choices. What next for Wales on the Brexit journey? And is there a role for Ukip once the UK leaves the EU? The Wales Report speaks to the Assembly group leader Neil Hamilton.

Download Subtitles