22/03/2017 The Wales Report


22/03/2017

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.


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Transcript


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

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

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nations of the UK together How does that square

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with the prospect of And how will pressure

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from the Scottish government ? for a new referendum on independence

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

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

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

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

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placing a question mark over But Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns

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says the Prime Minister is committed to the Union,

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and to getting the best deal for everyone -

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

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Brexit negotiations. I think the more we talk about

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

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be in the strongest position possible to demonstrate to the world

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

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

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

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

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constitutional debates and upheaval is not helpful because that creates

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uncertainty. But First Minister Carwyn Jones has

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told this programme that the UK constitution must be modernised

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so it works for each of the four nations,

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

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constitutional woes. What worries me is not the situation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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some sort of England and Wales entity where the Welsh national

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interest becomes completely subsumed and there are alternatives to going

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

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

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

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

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to see Wales have more powers. Obviously the question of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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considering what an independent Wales might look like and even the

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

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

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Scotland then independence is something that could become more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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around the economic position but ultimately I believe that decisions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Of course there will always be reasons to collaborate and cooperate

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

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

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Scottish independence and beyond Welsh independence. There are things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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secure a loud enough and an assertive enough voice in those

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

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interred very clearly the outcome for Wales could be less than

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

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

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

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

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worst government to put together the white paper outlining exactly what

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Brexit, there are serious consequences to that. Union

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

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paper we have called for participation in the single market

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

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

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

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

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

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

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working here, guarantees for students to travel freely for

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

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

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

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

:09:05.:09:10.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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movement, given the concerns expressed in the referendum last

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

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debate that the debate around immigration in Wales is very

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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understood concerns about immigration over recent years?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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appointment, and many people believe that those problems are there

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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economy. Thank you for talking to us.

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A new Swansea Bay City deal was signed this week,

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

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

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the economic challenges of the region - and it's

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highlighted the challenges in other parts of Wales.

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

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

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their pension entitlement to protect their job prospects.

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

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

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

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But first, we invited someone with a very different

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perspective to Mr Skates, Professor Patrick Minford,

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former economic advisor to Margaret Thatcher,

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to an industrial warehouse on the outskirts of Cardiff

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to examine Wales' place in the global economy.

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

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

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

:13:53.:13:57.

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

:13:58.:14:05.

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

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that are declining because they cannot meet the competitive pressure

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

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

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industries to expand and that can compete and allow the other

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industries to decline. The fundamental role of government is to

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create a business friendly environment. The basic point about

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

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

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

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

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

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

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living standards and disappoint the people of Wales.

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

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and Infrastructure, about his new strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:16:29.:16:32.

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

:16:33.:16:38.

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

:16:39.:16:42.

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

:16:43.:16:46.

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

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

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

:16:57.:17:02.

of the original concept. There is not enough investment in

:17:03.:17:06.

infrastructure, not enough investment in people, this is more

:17:07.:17:10.

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

:17:11.:17:17.

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

:17:18.:17:22.

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

:17:23.:17:27.

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

:17:28.:17:33.

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

:17:34.:17:36.

technologies to make sure the economy of that region is future

:17:37.:17:41.

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

:17:42.:17:45.

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

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

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

:17:59.:18:04.

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

:18:05.:18:15.

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

:18:16.:18:18.

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

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

:18:26.:18:28.

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

:18:29.:18:35.

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

:18:36.:18:39.

turning Wales into a vast super prison for the English justice

:18:40.:18:43.

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

:18:44.:18:50.

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

:18:51.:18:53.

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

:18:54.:19:01.

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

:19:02.:19:10.

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

:19:11.:19:14.

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

:19:15.:19:20.

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

:19:21.:19:23.

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

:19:24.:19:32.

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

:19:33.:19:37.

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

:19:38.:19:42.

Wales, then there will be considerable economic benefits for

:19:43.:19:47.

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

:19:48.:19:51.

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

:19:52.:19:58.

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

:19:59.:20:01.

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

:20:02.:20:06.

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

:20:07.:20:11.

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

:20:12.:20:17.

ministers assuring everybody that everything will be fine after the

:20:18.:20:20.

divorce and the two-year negotiations. We need transitions

:20:21.:20:25.

back and give security and assurances to businesses in Wales

:20:26.:20:30.

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

:20:31.:20:33.

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

:20:34.:20:38.

backs the likes of Michael Heseltine, rather than Liam Fox

:20:39.:20:44.

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

:20:45.:20:49.

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

:20:50.:20:53.

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

:20:54.:21:00.

the Conservative Party at Westminster stand up for what they

:21:01.:21:05.

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

:21:06.:21:11.

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

:21:12.:21:15.

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

:21:16.:21:19.

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

:21:20.:21:24.

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

:21:25.:21:29.

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

:21:30.:21:34.

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

:21:35.:21:40.

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

:21:41.:21:43.

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

:21:44.:21:50.

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

:21:51.:21:59.

listening to others then the UK Government should be listening on

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

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

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

:22:13.:22:20.

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

:22:21.:22:24.

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

:22:25.:22:28.

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

:22:29.:22:36.

the political debate about Wales' future could change significantly in

:22:37.:22:39.

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

:22:40.:22:43.

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

:22:44.:22:52.

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

:22:53.:22:56.

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

:22:57.:22:59.

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

:23:00.:23:05.

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

:23:06.:23:09.

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

:23:10.:23:15.

damaging consequences on the relationship between the nations.

:23:16.:23:17.

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

:23:18.:23:32.

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

:23:33.:23:45.

Torrance and Professor Laura McAllister. First of all, the

:23:46.:23:48.

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

:23:49.:23:51.

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

:23:52.:23:56.

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

:23:57.:24:01.

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

:24:02.:24:07.

listened to was from the Welsh government minister last week who

:24:08.:24:10.

talked about a pretty dreadful catalogue of ignorance with regards

:24:11.:24:15.

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

:24:16.:24:21.

May and her cabinet are taking the issue of the devolved

:24:22.:24:24.

administrations voices seriously. I see little prospect of that

:24:25.:24:30.

changing. Although the Scottish independence referendum does shift

:24:31.:24:36.

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

:24:37.:24:40.

certainly means Scotland has a pretty direct and loud voice into

:24:41.:24:46.

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

:24:47.:24:53.

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

:24:54.:24:59.

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

:25:00.:25:03.

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

:25:04.:25:08.

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

:25:09.:25:11.

with the Scottish Government ministers on certain policy areas,

:25:12.:25:16.

agriculture and fisheries for example, and not getting anywhere

:25:17.:25:22.

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

:25:23.:25:34.

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

:25:35.:25:38.

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

:25:39.:25:42.

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

:25:43.:25:47.

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

:25:48.:25:51.

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

:25:52.:25:54.

government from the Brexit negotiations. That is hugely

:25:55.:26:02.

problematic. Ideological positions between a Unionist government in

:26:03.:26:06.

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

:26:07.:26:11.

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

:26:12.:26:18.

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

:26:19.:26:21.

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

:26:22.:26:27.

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

:26:28.:26:32.

nationalist parties who are not traditional nationalist. The agenda

:26:33.:26:35.

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

:26:36.:26:42.

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

:26:43.:26:47.

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

:26:48.:26:50.

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

:26:51.:26:57.

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

:26:58.:27:04.

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

:27:05.:27:10.

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

:27:11.:27:14.

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

:27:15.:27:18.

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

:27:19.:27:26.

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

:27:27.:27:31.

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

:27:32.:27:35.

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

:27:36.:27:40.

something that is remotely attractive? A federal settlement

:27:41.:27:44.

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

:27:45.:27:51.

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

:27:52.:27:55.

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

:27:56.:27:59.

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

:28:00.:28:04.

independence that exist in other European nations. I think the

:28:05.:28:08.

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

:28:09.:28:12.

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

:28:13.:28:18.

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

:28:19.:28:22.

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

:28:23.:28:27.

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

:28:28.:28:32.

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

:28:33.:28:43.

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

:28:44.:28:46.

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

:28:47.:28:48.

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

:28:49.:28:50.

both for joining us. If you'd like to get in touch

:28:51.:28:51.

with us about what's been discussed tonight or anything else,

:28:52.:28:56.

email us at [email protected],

:28:57.:28:58.

or follow us on social media ? where the discussion continues -

:28:59.:28:59.

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

:29:00.:29:07.

night.

:29:08.:29:17.

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