I thank Plaid Cymru today for bringing this important debate to the table. It follows the discussion yesterday on Brexit and devolution and, of course, it also gives us an opportunity today to consider some of the points that are in the Queen’s Speech. It’s nearly a year now since the people of Wales voted to leave the European Union. It was a decision that I think will create detrimental impacts for our economy and jobs in our nation.
Now, we’ll be discussing some of the consequences of Brexit, a year on, at a conference that I’m hosting in Hay-on-Wye this weekend, where we’ll hear a whole range of experts, including Sir Keir Starmer, Lord John Kerr, the author of article 50, and Neil Kinnock, the former Vice President of the European Commission, along with lots of other business and trade union and academic experts. There are a few tickets left, if anyone would like to join us.
One thing that we will discuss in the conference is the way that the results of the election have changed the position. Now, I believe and hope that a hard Brexit is no longer on the table. I’m going to define a hard Brexit, because I think that’s one of the problems, that nobody quite understands what a hard Brexit means. I think that a hard Brexit is one that puts immigration controls as a priority ahead of all other decisions in the negotiations. I hope now that we will move towards a sensible Brexit, a soft Brexit, which puts jobs and the economy as the priority. But we can’t win this argument unless our parties co-operate and collaborate where that’s possible, and I’m pleased to hear that Steffan Lewis agrees with that. And I do think it is important that we do work together. We need to calm down the rhetoric if at all possible. This is a hugely important issue for our country. It puts the role of our nation and our people first. The fact is that we are negotiating with 27 other nations, the 27 against one, and although I feel passionately as a European, I feel even greater passion towards my own nation, and I do think it’s important that we get the best possible deal for Wales and for the UK.
Today we heard the Queen’s Speech and the priorities of the UK Government. The Prime Minister has said that she wants to see a Brexit that works for the whole of the UK, but how is that possible unless she’s spoken to Wales? There has still been no discussion with the Welsh Government on the great repeal Bill, although it’s contained within the Queen’s Speech today and I’m sure that a draft of it is available. I’m pleased to see that Carwyn Jones yesterday announced that the Welsh Government is now looking to prepare a continuity Bill in case the great repeal Bill actually has detrimental impacts for the Welsh Government. It’s crucially important that the powers that belong to Wales but were handed to the EU when the Assembly was established come directly back to this place. There is no mention in the Queen’s Speech today in relation to agriculture or fisheries that the Welsh Government has any role; there is just a brief sentence taking it for granted that new national policies will be introduced.