22/03/2017 The Wales Report


With the triggering of the official Brexit process now a week away, Huw Edwards looks at the implications for Wales and for the future of the UK.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 22/03/2017. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Good evening. This week the recent maid came to Swansea to get on with


a city deal. A clear sign they say that she is committed to keeping the


nations of the UK together How does that square


with the prospect of And how will pressure


from the Scottish government ? for a new referendum on independence


? affect the path ahead? Remember you can have your say -


join in the debate on Twitter. This week - the possibility


of a second independence referendum in Scotland seems ever more likely ?


today the Scottish parliament has backed Nicola Sturgeon's call,


placing a question mark over But Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns


says the Prime Minister is committed to the Union,


and to getting the best deal for everyone -


and that talk of breaking up the UK could in fact undermine


Brexit negotiations. I think the more we talk about


constitutional change in the UK that am nervous investors and we need to


be in the strongest position possible to demonstrate to the world


that we can attract investment, so clearly we want to negotiate with


the European Union and we want the warmest of relationships and we want


them to be able to trade with us and the same way we train to them but it


is about getting a plan that works for every part of the UK and


constitutional debates and upheaval is not helpful because that creates


uncertainty. But First Minister Carwyn Jones has


told this programme that the UK constitution must be modernised


so it works for each of the four nations,


or Scottish independence could just be the beginning of Theresa May's


constitutional woes. What worries me is not the situation


now but what might happen in the future. If the Scots leave the UK


and they hope they don't, what is left is quite unbalanced and it


would need to be rebalanced to be effective. I fear England than


saying we will go off on our own as a country. It sounds strange but


lots of strange things are possible with that seismic shift in the way


politics operates on these islands. That puts Wales in a position but


having no choice but going in a certain direction. I don't want to


see that. I would rather a partnership of four nations working


together towards a common purpose. So, where next for the UK


and Wales' place within it? Earlier I spoke to the leader


of Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood. If the Scots do vote to become an


independent countries in the UK will no longer exist, and so that should


be the time where in Wales we have a conversation about where we want to


go individual. There is a danger I think that we would be dragged into


some sort of England and Wales entity where the Welsh national


interest becomes completely subsumed and there are alternatives to going


down that road and I think that all of those alternatives should be on


the table and that people in Wales should have the option to vote for


those alternatives in a referendum. How many alternatives either? There


are a range of alternatives. Already 43% of people in opinion polls want


to see Wales have more powers. Obviously the question of


independence for Wales and there may be other options that we have yet to


even talk about the point is we need to have a discussion about our


future and its people in Wales who should decide what that future looks


like. When you talk about independence for some people but is


and the notion that scares them and for others it is exciting but that


has been traditionally if we believe polls a very small minority of


people in Wales. What gives you any confidence that that could change


even if Scotland votes in a certain way? We have seen since the Brexit


but opinion polls have shown that there may be more people open to


considering what an independent Wales might look like and even the


First Minister has said that if Theresa May ploughs ahead with a


hard Brexit and doesn't listen to the needs of people in Wales and


Scotland then independence is something that could become more


popular amongst the public, so that is something that isn't there on the


table and it is clear that the status quo is not delivering for


Wales. It is simply unacceptable that average wages in Wales are 10%


of the average for the UK, at 23% of people living in Wales are living in


poverty and we don't have the tools to do something about that, so the


next step for us may be enhanced economic powers so that we can turn


around the economic position but ultimately I believe that decisions


about Wales are best taken in Wales and it is only people in Wales that


will have their best interests at heart at all times. I don't want to


get stuck in terminology, people in your party say the use of the word


independent is not helpful and that it is old-fashioned and an


old-fashioned concept, but if you talk about a more federal settlement


with UK with more powers for Cardiff and Edinburgh and Belfast, that is a


much more modern and understandable concept, so why are you still wedded


to this notion of independence? That may be a staging post through the


journey but I think it is not right to say people don't understand what


independence is. With the debate that happened in Scotland in 2014


and the debate now it is clear what an independent Scotland means and


the same for Wales, it means having the powers to decide for yourself.


Of course there will always be reasons to collaborate and cooperate


with other countries much as we have been doing in the European Union,


and the same I would imagine would take place on a UK basis beyond


Scottish independence and beyond Welsh independence. There are things


were it is in all of our interests to work together on but that should


be on the basis of equality, a partnership of equals, as opposed to


the unequal situation we are in now. Partnership of equals, equality,


this is exactly the case that Gordon Brown has been meeting recently. He


is not making the case for independence, it is a much more


equitable settlement with the in the current United Kingdom so where are


you differing here if you talk about powers that are assured of fairly,


but for you is the problem with retaining the union but getting more


powers within it? We have heard all this before. Gordon Brown was one of


the people who spoke ahead of the Scottish referendum in 2014,


remember the bow that was promised the people in Scotland. That didn't


really materialise to much and so I am pretty sure that you will be


quite cynical. If we look ahead to the exit talks, how does Wales


secure a loud enough and an assertive enough voice in those


talks and are you concerned at the end of the day that if that voice is


interred very clearly the outcome for Wales could be less than


advantageous? Very concerned about that. It appears to me that the


Prime Minister is not really listening to the needs of the nation


's that make up the UK, she is on her part and she seems to be


determined to see that pass through. Plaid Cymru has worked with the


worst government to put together the white paper outlining exactly what


the best interests of Wales would be in those negotiations and I am


looking all the time for evidence that some of those messages in that


white paper are coming through, for example it is really important for


Wales and the Welsh economy for us to retain or membership of the


single market. We are a big exporting nation and 67% of all our


exports to the European single market. It looks like the Prime


Minister isn't taking that view as seriously as she could be and for


the Scots that means that she is going to plough ahead with a hard


Brexit, there are serious consequences to that. Union


membership, not access? Because that has been ruled out. In the white


paper we have called for participation in the single market


and what that means... Which is very different membership. The bottom


line for us is tariff free access and no extra costs one Welsh


businesses. That is the kind of thing that would put jobs under


threat. Those companies can't afford those extra costs. That is the


bottom line but there are many demands in that white paper,


including to give guarantees to EU citizens who are already living and


working here, guarantees for students to travel freely for


example, there are key industries and sectors in Wales where we need


workers from abroad at least in the short term and we don't want to see


those industries and sectors hampered. The NHS is a proud simple.


It may be that the interests of the south-east of England are not


exactly the same as those of Wales, but the Prime Minister represents


the whole of the UK, she has said that she will consult with Wales and


Scotland. I have yet to see any evidence of that consultation or to


understand exactly what that means. One of the key themes, as you know


only too well, has been to do with freedom of movement. There has been


a big debate. If voters as Cuba Plaid Cymru stance on freedom of


movement, given the concerns expressed in the referendum last


year, what did you say to them? I have said to them right through the


debate that the debate around immigration in Wales is very


different to that in parts of England. The numbers here are very


small. You could fit every single EU national deserving in Wales in the


Millennium Stadium. -- that is living in Wales. As many of them


work in key sectors as I have already mentioned the NHS, so we


want to protect those sectors and the livelihoods of people who live


here. I accept that many people want to see the immigration rules


tightened up, and in the white paper that we drew up with the Welsh


Government we called for in that a Norwegian style system. In no way


freedom of movement carries on but it is linked to having a job in that


country. You can go to find a job there but the time is limited. That


would enable you to ensure you got the key staff for those key sectors


and that there wouldn't be major problems in our economy as a result


of a complete cut-off at some point. What would you say to your critics


who say that Plaid Cymru will be performing much more strongly at the


moment had you shown a willingness to understand or to show that you


understood concerns about immigration over recent years?


Peoples about immigration are in the main a perception problem. --


concerns about them immigration. They are imagine it? That is thing


to say. When you think about how people voted and how they express


their opinions it is quite a thing to say they are fantasising? When


you look at tabloid newspapers there are stories are stories and stories


about ways in which immigrants have done wrong things and bad things and


illegal things and that builds up a picture over time. It may be that


there are some problems in some parts of the UK, but in Wales we


don't have those problems. People do have a perception that there is a


problem, this offer for example from low wages or frozen wages of data


might not be able to get housing or they may have to wait for a health


appointment, and many people believe that those problems are there


because of the migration. When you look at the facts and the evidence


there are other reasons behind those problems. If we want to tackle those


problems we have to actually tackle the real problems and not a


perception. Because we could end up throwing out every single immigrant


from Wales, making them go home and sending them back on boats and


planes and still people would have those same problems. They wouldn't


be resolved. So rather than cause absolute mayhem and upheaval in


people's lives, let's have a sensible approach to freedom of


movement and that have a policy that meets our needs in the Welsh


economy. Thank you for talking to us.


A new Swansea Bay City deal was signed this week,


promising ?1.3 billion of investment for the region of South West Wales.


Everyone seems to agree it's welcome news ? if somewhat overdue given


the economic challenges of the region - and it's


highlighted the challenges in other parts of Wales.


More than 1000 jobs are seen to be at risk at the Ford factory


in Bridgend ? and Tata Steel workers have already voted to cut


their pension entitlement to protect their job prospects.


In an ever more competitive global economy, there's renewed debate


about what the state can do to sustain jobs in industry.


In a moment, I'll be talking the Economy Secretary Ken Skates.


But first, we invited someone with a very different


perspective to Mr Skates, Professor Patrick Minford,


former economic advisor to Margaret Thatcher,


to an industrial warehouse on the outskirts of Cardiff


to examine Wales' place in the global economy.


Wales is, as we know, adjusted from a very different industrial past.


The economy is constantly adjusting. In 1970 35% of jobs were in


manufacturing, metal bashing. They had no long-term future, today it is


8%. The UK economy has been changing throughout that period towards


high-tech manufacturing. Jobs are lost in those parts of the economy


that are declining because they cannot meet the competitive pressure


from abroad. We don't know exactly which sectors will be rich, but as a


nation we are best of having the institutions that allow the good


industries to expand and that can compete and allow the other


industries to decline. The fundamental role of government is to


create a business friendly environment. The basic point about


free trade is it gives a consumer the best prices in the world for


what they want to buy. And then the idea is we then complete against the


world and produced the things we are best that. That way, we get a double


bonus. The consumer gets the best prices and we get the highest


productivity by concentrating on the industries we are best at. The


government tries to sort of stop things happening, it will lower


living standards and disappoint the people of Wales.


I'm joined now by Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for the Economy


and Infrastructure, about his new strategy


Thank you for coming in. The talk was old sectors, and you are talking


about regions, focusing on the economy of a place, if you like. Why


have you changed focus? The sectors have proved to be incredibly


successful and now it is time to refocus and make sure we take out


the unevenness of economic growth across Wales. We are setting out a


vision that will resolve the unequal growth of the economy across Wales


by sorting out the foundation, the foundation of every economy so


people are equipped with the skills to get into work. They have rapid


transport to get to work and other challenges resolved, such as


childcare pressures. But we need to invest in those high-tech economies


of tomorrow where we know we have capabilities and specialties at the


moment. It could be in financial technology in the south-east. It


could be in advanced aerospace in the north-east or in nuclear in the


north-west. We are already leading the world in some areas, we need to


make sure we take the transition from today to tomorrow to make sure


we are still reading. When you look at the deal that has been set up in


Swansea, there are people saying, this isn't in line with the spirit


of the original concept. There is not enough investment in


infrastructure, not enough investment in people, this is more


about buildings and show economy. Is there a bit, an element of truth in


that argument and are you not investing still in things that need


investment? I am excited about the deal for the Swansea region. Because


it identifies where the future of the regional economy will grow. That


is going to be on the back of digital technology, new and emerging


technologies to make sure the economy of that region is future


proof, to make sure it remains at the cutting edge of manufacturing. I


am excited about the prospects for the region, given the deal. I would


say we now need to look at UK governments and North Wales agreeing


on a growth deal as well. That has to be completed sooner, rather than


later. In a matter of months? I would like it completed in a matter


of months. There is a meeting in June, so North Wales can gain the


same benefits and then we have three primary motors for the Welsh economy


that can drive economic growth right across communities. Can we talk


about the quality of jobs, because that is important. And the


announcement of a major new prison in Port Talbot. Adam Price saying


turning Wales into a vast super prison for the English justice


system is not the economic future we need or deserve. Does he have a


point? No, he doesn't. He is rejecting the idea of creating


wealth and opportunity in Wales of the back of a sustainable economy.


It is not the first prison? The prison near Wrexham, the facilities


to build that prison was provided to the local workforce and it provided


opportunity to create wealth in the area. There will be taxi firms,


hospitality businesses, there will be a whole host of opportunities for


the skills training sector to make sure they can benefit from the spin


off of that prison. I am sure if we can get the Ministry of Justice to


apply the same sort of conditions to the proposal for the prison in south


Wales, then there will be considerable economic benefits for


the communities in that area. Let's talk about economic problems in the


Brexit process. More talk this week about the fact some ministers and


government, in Theresa May's government, are openly considering


the prospect of no deal at the end of this process and fall back on WTO


regulations. What would that mean for Wales? That is, in my view,


would be nothing short of a disaster. We have had government


ministers assuring everybody that everything will be fine after the


divorce and the two-year negotiations. We need transitions


back and give security and assurances to businesses in Wales


and across the UK. Reverting to World Trade Organisation rules would


not be in our interests. I would also suggest the Prime Minister


backs the likes of Michael Heseltine, rather than Liam Fox


because it is essential we get the best deal with Europe, maintaining


tariff free arrangements and ensuring we don't have any other


technical barriers. It is time more of those realistic figures within


the Conservative Party at Westminster stand up for what they


believe in. Talking about people use sacks. She has made the decision on


that perspective. When you look at the negotiations ahead, as we


understand it, the Welsh government wasn't even informed about the data


Article 50 will be triggered. What does that tell you about your


chances of having a meaningful voice in that debate? I would say to the


UK Government, the Welsh government has been clear about what it is we


need but the whole of the UK. If they are not listening, there is not


much point is there? We want the UK Government to use the language the


Welsh government have been using for months, free unfettered access.


Access to the single market. They are now listening. If they are


listening to others then the UK Government should be listening on


the detail. We stand to work with them that they have to be open to


working with us in a genuine and meaningful way, not just paying us


lip service. As we leave the EU, we need to remain strong as a nation.


We can only do that is if Wales is respected, Scotland is respected


Northern Ireland and the regions of England. George Osborne said we were


all in it together, well, we are in this. Are you saying the terms of


the political debate about Wales' future could change significantly in


relation to the rest of the UK if there is a perception Wales is not


being listened to last remark it is a risk, I hope it can be avoided. It


can be avoided if the First Minister acts upon those concerns swiftly. It


is no good the Prime Minister giving the Welsh government late notice of


its intentions. We must be there with clear purpose and the best way


to ensure that is by having us in the room influencing the outcome of


negotiators at every step. If they refuse to do that, it could have


damaging consequences on the relationship between the nations.


Minister, thank you for coming in. Let's talk about Brexit and its


potential ramifications. We will talk to two experts. We have David


Torrance and Professor Laura McAllister. First of all, the


question of a voice for Wales and Scotland in the Brexit process.


Theresa May has said she is listening and will take those views


into account. What does the form tell us so far? It is pretty


damning. The most damning indictment of how little Wales has been


listened to was from the Welsh government minister last week who


talked about a pretty dreadful catalogue of ignorance with regards


to involving Wales in this process. There hasn't been any sign Theresa


May and her cabinet are taking the issue of the devolved


administrations voices seriously. I see little prospect of that


changing. Although the Scottish independence referendum does shift


the ground. How does that change the way Scottish input is seen? It


certainly means Scotland has a pretty direct and loud voice into


that debate, if not the process of the UK extracting itself from the


EU. As Laura says, I don't think the UK Government has covered itself in


glory on this front. They apparently forgot to inform the Scottish


Government it was triggering Article 50 next week. At the same time,


people in London at Westminster tell their own story of trying to engage


with the Scottish Government ministers on certain policy areas,


agriculture and fisheries for example, and not getting anywhere


fast. So there is two sides to that story. Laura, are the terms of


Wales's future change because of Scotland? Brexit was always going to


have an impact across the UK but the call for a Scottish referendum has


moved the agenda in a different way. I think I can pick up on that


quickly from what the First Minister has said. He has talked about the


need for being a dividend for a Unionist government, like the Welsh


government from the Brexit negotiations. That is hugely


problematic. Ideological positions between a Unionist government in


Wales and a Unionist government at a UK level, they are concept of what


Brexit means. I don't see how that can play out for Wales. What has


done, it has moved Welsh politics into an interesting territory, which


is where Scotland were a few years ago. Nationalism and independents


are not the same things. As the SNP have shown, people can vote for


nationalist parties who are not traditional nationalist. The agenda


around the degree of independence a country has become is very fluid.


That is the kind of Beit debate we will be having in Wales. I want to


feed into that by asking David the Unionist case to be made again by


Gordon Brown which turned out to be rather important last time round in


2014? The problem with Gordon Brown's intervention is he has made


it several times since 2014. I think intellectually, the case for a


federal UK is a very strong one. But unfortunately for the Labour Party


and the Scottish Labour Party, they simply aren't taking us seriously as


they were a few years ago. However cogent that case, the audience


simply isn't there. Is the word independent now far less helpful


than it was in the past, in terms of the nationalist case? Lots of people


regard the concept of independence as a threat, they don't regard it as


something that is remotely attractive? A federal settlement


might, for some people, make more sense, what is your view? The


concept of independence is outdated. I think the terminology is acronym


stick. If you look at the powers the Scottish Government has now and the


Scottish Parliament more generally, they are close to some degrees of


independence that exist in other European nations. I think the


introduction of the concept of federalism, in fairness to the First


Minister, Carwyn Jones is one of the first voices who talked about


federalism in 2012. The problem is, as David said, the Labour Party


generally across the UK has very little status or profile in this


debate. The different reasons, Wales is generally ignored and Scotland's


Labour Party has been decimated by the Scottish Nationalists party. But


the lack of constitutional debate is changing. If we hang on to this, are


you for or against independence, we are missing some important nuances.


I think the public may be ahead of the politicians on this. Thank you


both for joining us. 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 ? where the discussion continues -


the hashtag is #TheWalesReport. Thanks for watching. Have a good




Download Subtitles