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Leaving the EU: Welsh Economy

Volume 640: debated on Wednesday 2 May 2018

8. What recent assessment he has made of the effect on the Welsh economy of the time being taken to legislate on the UK leaving the EU. (905014)

14. What recent assessment he has made of the effect on the Welsh economy of the time being taken to legislate on the UK leaving the EU. (905021)

The agreement reached between the UK Government and the Welsh Government on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill will ensure that we exit from the EU with the certainty and continuity that businesses and communities across Wales have called for.

Will the Minister reassure the House, and businesses across Wales, by confirming that arrangements will be put in place to ensure that new trade deals negotiated after we leave the European Union do not undermine devolved policies?

I am grateful that the hon. Gentleman is looking at the opportunities that leaving the European Union provides. Obviously, exports from Wales to the rest of the world are expanding at a much quicker rate than exports to the European Union, which demonstrates that businesses are already looking to those new opportunities, and more Members are looking to those opportunities as we have them.

My constituent Damian Harris owns a cycle shop in Cardiff North but is struggling because of the uncertainty caused by Brexit. Twenty-nine of the 30 bikes he stocks come from the EU and, at the very least, he needs a customs union to have any sort of viable future. We are now hearing that 60 Tory MPs are plotting to sink their own Government to force the Prime Minister to abandon any form of customs arrangement. Will the Secretary of State guarantee that he will work with the Welsh Government and speak up against that decision? A low-skilled workforce and—

Order. We are grateful for the hon. Lady’s thoughts but, unfortunately, one has to take account of the situation in the Chamber. The question needed to be a bit shorter.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is absolutely clear that we will be leaving the customs union but, of course, we are keen to negotiate to allow for the most frictionless trade possible with the European Union. We are also keen to take the new opportunities that leaving the European Union provides. We are keen to strike trade agreements right around the world, and to strike free trade agreements in due course.

My right hon. Friend will know that Labour’s economic development spokesman in the Welsh Government, Ken Skates, has spoken of the fact that Wales is receiving record amounts of inward investment. He said that Wales is “punching above its weight” at the moment. Is it not time that Labour Members started to listen to their own economic development Minister in Wales and stopped talking down the Welsh economy, which is booming under this Government?

Having met international investors from Japan, Qatar, the US and elsewhere over recent months, I am excited and optimistic about our prospects outside the European Union. Yesterday it was a privilege to be part of the inaugural flight from Qatar to Cardiff, which demonstrates that the industrial strategy, and the wider approach taken by the UK Government in seeking new markets, is already working.