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Brexit Opportunities: Discussions with Welsh Government

Volume 715: debated on Thursday 9 June 2022

10. What recent discussions the Minister for Brexit Opportunities has had with the Welsh Government on the UK Government’s assessment of the potential merits of the UK having left the EU. (900333)

I am very grateful for this question because it is an opportunity to remind the hon. Gentleman that the people of Wales, in their good sense, voted in a higher proportion to leave the European Union than did the people of England.

My officials and I undertake regular engagement with the devolved Administrations on the opportunities arising from leaving the European Union, including on the Brexit freedoms Bill and the reviews of retained EU law. I was pleased to have a meeting with the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution on 23 May to discuss the Brexit freedoms Bill, and I look forward to further such discussions to ensure we maximise the benefits of Brexit for the people of Wales, including the exciting development of a freeport.

Post-Brexit freight traffic through Holyhead is down by 34%—permanently so. This is not teething troubles and it is not post covid; it is a permanent failure. In January last year, the Secretary of State for Wales told me that he was in talks with the Welsh Government to make sure that Holyhead “flourishes”. Eighteen months later, does this Minister consider that Holyhead is flourishing?

I think everyone is keen that Holyhead should flourish, but inevitably there are competitive routes for transport. It is inevitable in any free market system that people will choose the routes that they decide to use. But there are also issues with the Northern Ireland protocol and, if the hon. Gentleman continues to attend as regularly as he does, he will no doubt hear announcements in this House on the protocol.