Brexit: Welsh industry must be protected

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Plaid Cymru calls for a Nissan deal for Welsh businesses

Plaid Cymru has urged the UK Government to offer the same protections for Welsh industry it has offered to the automotive industry in Northern England.

The Party’s Parliamentary leader, Hywel Williams, questioned the Secretary of State for Wales during Wales Questions in the House of Commons on whether he had urged his government colleagues to protect Welsh industry.

In October, the UK Government was forced to give a last-minute written promise to protect the Sunderland-based car manufacturer, Nissan, from the consequences of Brexit before the carmaker agreed to keep investing in the UK.

The call from Plaid Cymru comes following the comments of Airbus’ Chief Operating Officer yesterday (Tuesday), that Airbus, which employs 6,000 people at its site in Flintshire, will be “entering a dangerous phase” if they can’t continue to seamlessly move people and products around the European Union.

Chair of car manufacturer, Toyota, which employs more than 500 people at its site in Deeside, told the Financial Times last week (Wednesday 18th January) that the company is considering “how to survive” in the UK outside the Single Market. Three quarters of the cars made by Toyota in the UK are exported to the EU.

Commenting, Plaid Cymru’s Parliamentary leader, Hywel Williams, said:

“Slashing our economic ties with Europe and the numerous countries with whom the Customs Union allows free trade will be an act of indefensible self-harm.

“Major employers such as Airbus in Flintshire have already outlined the importance of their ability to move people and products between their various factories across Europe, and Toyota have also warned that they are considering how they can survive, with three quarters of their UK-made cars being exported to the EU.

“The result of the referendum in June can be fully implemented without having to cause this additional pain. Many of those campaigning for Brexit last year advocated the Norway model of leaving the European Union but maintaining our membership of the Single Market. Doing so would mean we wouldn’t have to cook up sweetheart deals for individual companies or sectors to stop them from packing up.

“If the UK Government is intent on appeasing the ultra-right wing on the fringes of the Conservative Party and drag all four UK member countries out of the economic blocs regardless of those countries’ views, then they should at least be offering Welsh industry the same protections as they have offered certain sectors in England.

“It is clear that the least damaging form of Brexit would be to leave the European Union whilst maintaining our place within the Single Market and the Customs Union and we will be amending the Article 50 legislation to ensure this happens. If the Government blocks our amendments however, it will be incumbent upon the Prime Minister to offer assurances to the 200,000 people in Wales whose jobs rely on our trade with Europe by giving Welsh companies the same protections they have offered certain sectors in England.”

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