No deal plan to bypass Welsh ports ‘devastating’ – Plaid Cymru

Any kind of Brexit risks trade flowing directly between the Republic of Ireland and the European continent, bypassing Welsh ports including Holyhead.

Brexit contingency plans published recently by the Irish Government show that any Brexit would be ‘devastating’ for Welsh ports, according to Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy and Finance Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM.

The Republic of Ireland has been making substantial plans for its ports in the event of Brexit, with hundreds of millions of Euros invested in a number of companies, including Irish Ferries, to help increase capacity on direct routes to France, Belgium, Spain, and the Netherlands.

Mr ap Iorwerth says that the Irish contingency plans necessitated by Brexit will mean that Welsh ports, and as a result Wales, will be bypassed.

According to Mr ap Iorwerth, Plaid Cymru had warned that any kind of Brexit, but particularly a no deal scenario, would be ‘very damaging’ to Welsh ports and ‘disastrous’ for Wales.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy and Finance Minister, and Ynys Môn Assembly Member, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said:

“A Brexit of any kind would be very damaging to Holyhead port. It is in the interest of all concerned to continue seamless flow of trade between Holyhead and Dublin, regardless of which Brexit – if any – we end up with. It is vitally important we avoid a No Deal Brexit, which would be devastating.

“What this document by the Government of Ireland shows is that the Republic of Ireland has invested heavily to prepare for the possibility of bypassing Welsh ports in the event of a no deal Brexit, putting infrastructure in place to service direct routes to continental ports. This would be severely damaging to our ports here in Wales, which rely heavily on trade flowing seamlessly between Wales and the Republic.

“A no deal Brexit would be disastrous for Wales, and the best deal we can get is the one we already have. The future of our relationship with the European Union should be put to a People’s Vote now that we have a clear picture of what Brexit really means.”

Devolving Air Passenger Duty is long overdue, says Rhun ap Iorwerth AM

On Tuesday night the Welsh Assembly backed a motion that would call on UK Government to devolve Air Passenger Duty to Wales by 2021 – a move that Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Economy and Finance Rhun ap Iorwerth said would help find ways to optimise the Welsh Economy.

Air Passenger Duty was introduced in 1994 and is a tax charged by airlines on all economy flights that leave the UK – APD is part of your ticket price and airlines pass the tax onto the Government.

A report published last month by the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Committee recommended that the UK Government fully devolve control over APD to Cardiff Bay by 2021 and yesterday Plaid Cymru, the Labour Welsh Government and the Conservatives jointly tabled a motion to call on Westminster to make sure these powers are devolved in line with the Committee’s recommendations.

Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“In a situation where Scotland already has seen APD devolved, when Northern Ireland has APD devolved, it seems to me that the barriers are there to stop Wales in some way gaining that kind of advantage that could come from the devolution of something that is very much in the spirit of devolution and a proposal that has been made now in a number of highly respected reports.

“There is no strong evidence to suggest that Bristol would be at a disadvantage—but it would be advantageous to Cardiff … and not just Cardiff Airport, but Anglesey Airport in my constituency. We should be looking at this in the round.

“So, let us today make that statement that we believe the time is not just right, but is overdue for us to take this step. It is in our interests as we look for ways of optimising the Welsh economy. It is not about trying to disadvantage others.”

‘Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns is blocking devolution of air passenger duty – against will of Senedd’ – Plaid Cymru

Ahead of today’s (Tues 2 July) cross-party debate on the devolution of Air Passenger Duty (APD) in the Senedd, Plaid Cymru has said that the Secretary of State for Wales is blocking power over the tax being transferred to Wales.

Today’s debate, tabled by the Welsh Government with support from Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservatives, calls on the UK Government to devolve APD to the Senedd by 2021.

But Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy and Finance Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM has pointed to Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns’ poor voting record on devolving APD, and said that the Secretary of State himself is standing in the way of devolution.

In a September 2016 debate on the Wales Bill, Mr Cairns voted against devolving APD. During Welsh Questions earlier that year, he refused to commit to devolving APD, saying that it was a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Previously, he voted against devolving responsibility for setting the rate of APD in Finance Bill debates in April 2013 and April 2014.

Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate last year, former Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb said that he had failed to persuade former prime minister David Cameron and former chancellor George Osborne of the case for devolving APD.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy and Finance Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said:

“Today’s cross-party motion is a demonstration that the devolution of air passenger duty is the will of the Senedd, and we are pleased to support the motion.

“No matter what our Senedd says, however, it appears to me that the Secretary of State for Wales is standing in the way of devolution here.

“On three occasions, Alun Cairns has voted against devolving APD, and when questioned, avoided committing to devolving it – hiding, instead, behind the Treasury.

“His predecessor as Welsh Secretary said that he had failed to persuade David Cameron and George Osborne of the case for devolving APD.

“I would say that the incumbent Welsh Secretary’s record on this issue indicates that he himself is unconvinced.

“Today’s Senedd vote should be a signal to Mr Cairns: get out the way of devolution, because the will of this Senedd is clear.

“It should also be a wake-up call for the Conservatives – they’re supporting today’s motion, so they need to have a word with their Welsh Secretary to get him to stop blocking it.”

‘The British state is failing Wales’ says Plaid Cymru, as new figures show £13.7 billion fiscal gap

Plaid Cymru has said that the ‘British state is failing Wales’, following the publication of new figures from the Wales Fiscal Analysis research team at the Wales Governance Centre today (Tues 2 July).

The figures, which will be discussed at a conference at Cardiff Bay’s Pierhead Building, show that Wales’ net fiscal balance – the difference between total public spending for Wales and estimated public revenue – amounted to a £13.7 billion deficit.

The deficit, known as the fiscal gap, amounts to 19.4% of estimated GDP. The comparable figure for the UK as a whole is just 2%.

The research also found that overall spending per head in Wales is significantly lower than in England, with spending on UK Government programmes in Wales other than social security significantly lower than comparable spending in England.

Startlingly, the report found that capital spending – such as on new public infrastructure – is lower in Wales, particularly in transport and science and technology (76% and 75% of the UK average respectively).

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy and Finance Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM has said that ‘Wales is behind held back from reaching its potential’ under the current set-up of the UK, and has accused the UK Government of either forgetting about Wales or ‘wilfully under-investing’ in Wales as a ‘way of keeping us in our place’.

Mr ap Iorwerth warned that the situation would only get worse under either of the two candidates to be the next Tory prime minister, and would be particularly bad in the event that Wales leaves the European Union.

The findings released today come in advance of the publication of Government Expenditure and Revenue Wales 2019 later this month, and a further report in the autumn on how Wales’ fiscal gap may be narrowed.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy and Finance Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said:

“These figures paint a dim picture of Wales’ place in the United Kingdom. What the figures show is that the current set-up of the British state is failing Wales, and our nation is being held back from reaching its potential.

“As if we needed any further proof of how low down the Westminster pecking order Wales really is, this report shows that we receive just 76% of the UK Government’s average spending on transport.

“The report’s authors say that the main driver of Wales’ £13.7 gap between the amount of public spending in Wales and the amount of money that’s brought in is not higher spending, but lower revenues, such as from taxation.

“It is common sense that capital investment in public infrastructure creates jobs and prosperity – and thereby increases revenue. And yet the UK Government’s infrastructure spending in Wales is drastically lower than in England.

“At best, the British state, via the UK Government, has simply forgotten about Wales. At worst, it is wilfully under-investing in our nation as a way to keep us in our place. This will only get worse under either of the two candidates to be the next prime minister, and certainly if Wales is taken out of the European Union.

“As an independent nation at the heart of Europe, we would have a full complement of tools at our disposal to invest in infrastructure and grow our economy. We would also have full control over our own natural resources, such as electricity and water.”

If Labour’s not up the job of growing the Welsh economy, they should step out of the way for a party that is – Plaid Cymru

Writing in today’s (Sun 30 June) Sunday Times, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy and Finance Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM has said that Labour has failed to live up to its promises on the economy.

His call for Labour to make way follow comments by the Labour Welsh Government’s deputy economy minister and Llanelli AM Lee Waters earlier this week, who said of Labour: “We’ve pretended we know what we’re doing on the economy” for twenty years, “and the truth is, we don’t really know what we’re doing on the economy.”

Mr ap Iorwerth said that growth had stalled under Labour, with child poverty rising, and life expectancy falling faster in Wales than anywhere else in Europe.

Following Mr Waters’ comments at an event for cooperative sector leaders earlier this week – in which he also appeared to concede defeat in the 2021 Welsh election – the First Minister acknowledged that automation and Brexit were big challenges for the economy.

However, Mr ap Iorwerth pointed out that Labour had failed to get to grips with both these issues – firstly, by allowing the taskforce set up to protect jobs at Ford’s Bridgend plant to not meet for eight months before Ford announced the plant’s closure; and secondly, by failing to bring any meaningful pressure on the Prime Minister or the Labour leadership to back a second public vote on Brexit.

Writing in today’s Sunday Times, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy and Finance Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said:

“Since the very beginning of devolution, it is Labour that has led the Welsh Government.

“And as the Minister says, during that time, growth has stalled. He blames economic orthodoxy. But I also blame it on a lack of innovation from his party in government.

“Growth in Wales has stalled, people’s incomes no longer match the cost of living, and we’re all having to work harder and longer for less reward.

Mr ap Iorwerth added:

“The Deputy Economy Minister said that some people were disappointed that devolution hadn’t achieved its potential.

“The truth as I see it is that people are disappointed that Labour hasn’t lived up to its promises.

“It is Labour – tired and lazy – that has failed. And if they’re not up to the job, they should step out of the way so that a party that is can take charge.

“My party, Plaid Cymru, is ready to do just that, working with the people of Wales to kick-start the kind of economic renaissance the country desperately needs.”

Ynys Môn AM pressures Welsh Government to step up Rehau support

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Môn Rhun ap Iorwerth has continued to put pressure on Welsh Government regarding economic support for the north of the island and has asked that support for the workers at Rehau Amlwch is stepped up again and to explore investment opportunities for the economy in the area.

In a question to Welsh Government Minister for Economy Ken Skates on Wednesday, Mr ap Iorwerth compared the seriousness of the situation in the north of Anglesey to that being experienced in Bridgend at the moment, with the announcement of Rehau’s intended closure in Amlwch, adding to a number of economic blows suffered in the region in 2019.

In a letter received by Mr ap Iorwerth from the Minister on June 5th, Mr Skates said Welsh Government had established a taskforce to consider economic solutions for the Amlwch area, but in a recent statement in the Assembly the Minister confessed that more significant arrangements had been made to deal with the crisis in Bridgend.

The Ynys Môn AM has therefore pushed for the same level of arrangements to be secured for Amlwch, with the Minister agreeing to revisit the situation.

Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“Recently, in the context of the announcement about the Ford factory in Bridgend, we heard the Minister say that he would want to go further than the taskforce model because of the size of the threat there in Bridgend, and I agree with that, certainly.

“The Rehau announcement, on top of the negative announcements recently regarding the economy of northern Anglesey, is also especially serious, considering the population and the rural element and so forth. So, I would welcome a commitment to look at going further than the taskforce model in the case of north Anglesey and to look at special investments in developing the economy there.

“I’d also ask that Welsh Government supports the idea of the site being left as a legacy to the local economy in order to ensure that what was an important economic hub can continue in the future.”

Plaid call to invest £1.4bn scrapped M4 funding in Welsh transport network

Plaid Cymru have called for the £1.4bn investment initially intended for the now scrapped M4 relief road to be reinvested towards the development of a long-term vision for a green and sustainable integrated Welsh transport network.

The call follows today’s Plaid Cymru debate on alternatives to the M4 relief road, which would include giving priority to addressing the congestion issues around Newport.

Plaid Cymru’s shadow economy minister, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM, said that the £1.4bn should be used as part of a pan-Wales development in sustainable transport and infrastructure investment.

Mr ap Iorwerth said that an integrated and affordable public transport system should be an essential part of this project.

He added that whilst Newport’s growing congestion was a prime example of Wales’ transport woes, it could also be the ‘catalyst’ to ‘provide a solution’.

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM and shadow economy and finance minister said,

“We now have £1.4bn of capital investment at our disposal. Imagine what can be achieved if this was used effectively.

“We still need a long term solution for the congestion around Newport and I’d want to move quickly on this, but this must be as part of a wider package of sustainable investment in Wales’s infrastructure which is long overdue.

“We need to connect our country through a multi-modal, high quality integrated and low carbon public transport system. Let’s get the South Wales Metro up-and-running, let’s look at reopening railways, from Carmerthen-Aberystwyth to Lein Amlwch in my constituency.

“We urgently need to invest in an integrated public transport, ensuring that it is affordable, accessible and a viable alternative to the car. Equal access to public transport is essential to achieving effective, sustainable mobility in Wales’ urban and rural environments as well as increasing local economic investment.

“Newport may be the focus of our transport woes but it can also be the catalyst that provides a solution to the transport woes for the whole of Wales.

Rhun ap Iorwerth outlines ‘Brexit reality’ for Wales as damning economic figures are published

Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Economy and Finance Rhun ap Iorwerth has said the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) plans demonstrate the true Brexit Reality to the people of Wales, as new figures showed Brexit would cost Welsh constituents more than £700 each over six years.

Analysis by the Communities in Charge organisation shows that Wales would stand to lose £2.3bn over six years under the UK Government’s current SPF plans compared to current funding received from the European Union’s Structural Funds Programme.

Speaking in a Plaid Cymru Debate on Shared Prosperity Fund this week in the Assembly, Mr ap Iorwerth outlined how it increases inequalities and is damaging for the people of Wales.

The Plaid Cymru AM for Ynys Môn said:

“The evidence now is clear. The risk is clear that Whitehall will just repeat its traditional formula of distribution of economic development funding. And look at what the figures published yesterday by the Communities in Charge organisation tell us about what that would mean.

“One of the campaign’s organisers said it will be like handing every Londoner a cheque for over £200 and taking £700 from every Welsh person. Wales could lose over £2.3 billion over six years, with money flowing to the prosperous south-east of England.

“Now, rather than reduce inequalities, a business-as-usual UK Government would only increase the inequality between the regions of the UK and the nations of the UK. This is the Brexit reality, this is what faces Wales, and that’s without taking into account the damage that would flow from the economic disaster of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.”

Plaid Cymru calls for urgent Intergovernmental Summit on Ford

Following today’s announcement that Ford intends to close its Bridgend plant, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy and Finance Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM has written to the Welsh Economy Minister, UK Government Business Secretary, and European Industry Commissioner to call for an urgent economic summit.

Mr ap Iorwerth said that workers at Ford’s Bridgend plant had given many years of service to the company, and the loss of 1,700 jobs at the plant would represent a bitter blow to Bridgend and the wider Welsh economy.

He added that the closure of the Bridgend plant would also have a devastating effect on the wider supply chain.

In his letter to, Mr ap Iorwerth said that workers should not bear the brunt of instability in the automotive industry and uncertainty caused by Brexit.

He has called for an urgent economic summit involving the Welsh and UK Governments, the European Commission, workers’ representatives and Ford, to find an urgent way forward to ‘protect jobs, investment, and the supply chain.’

In his letter to the Minister, Secretary of State, and Commissioner, Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“It is simply unacceptable to me that we should consider today’s announcement to be a done deal. I cannot stress enough how important this plant is to Bridgend, the surrounding area, and indeed to the Welsh economy, both in terms of jobs and the wider supply chain.

“It is incumbent upon us all to do all we can to seek to find a way to keep the Bridgend plant operational and to maintain the jobs and investment that it represents. In particular, we urgently need to discuss ways of supporting innovation and diversification.

“I would appreciate your urgent confirmation that you are prepared to participate in an urgent economic summit, involving all relevant legislative and government bodies at a Welsh, UK and European level, as well as representatives of the workers, and Ford itself, to discuss these issues and find an urgent way forward which projects jobs, investment, and the supply chain.”

Plaid Cymru AM proud that Senedd voted in favour of People’s Vote

The Welsh Parliament has voted in favour of holding a confirmatory vote on Brexit – with the option to remain on the ballot paper – becoming the first parliament in the United Kingdom to do so.

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Môn Rhun ap Iorwerth spoke at length in a debate his party tabled on the matter and expressed his pride that the Senedd voted in favour of the party’s motion to back a confirmatory vote.

Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“I’m proud that the Senedd unequivocally voted in favour of holding a Peoples Vote Brexit referendum – with remain on the ballot paper – following a debate led by Plaid Cymru, becoming the first parliament in the UK to do so.

“After the shambolic events of the last three years our assessment remains clear that leaving the European Union—our assessment is—would be detrimental to Wales—bad for farming, bad for young people, for the NHS and for the economy.

“I’m proud to stand alongside others from across political parties here in the National Assembly who share that assessment. Not everyone will agree with that assessment, but the beauty of what we’re calling for today is that it’s not Plaid Cymru’s will that we wish to be followed, but the will of the people today.

“Let’s give the people, not us, the final say, and let the people give their assessment of what has unfolded since June 2016. Our future and the future of our children is at stake.”