Jo Stevens

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Welsh Questions: Westminster government refuse to confirm post-Brexit support for almost a billion pounds of funding in Wales

This month I led the Shadow Wales team at Welsh Questions calling on the Government to confirm post Brexit support for almost a billion pounds of funding in Wales.

I asked the Minister if he would commit to protecting the pre-existing loans from European Investment bank loans to organisations & public bodies in Wales which total around £830bn. 

In his answer the Minister refused to commit to protect and underwrite these loans post-Brexit, and so put at risk the prospect of defaults on loans for projects like the £110m to support Viridor’s ERF Programme in Cardiff, the £60m to help to pay for the Swansea Bay Campus in Neath Port Talbot Council area and £430m for improvements to the Great Western Mainline.

In the same session, the Minister also refused to commit to supporting jobs in the Ford plant in Bridgend post-2020, and would not offer Ford the same post-Brexit guarantee as recently given by the UK government to their competitor Nissan.  The 100m investment recently announced by Ford was a reduction from the originally scheduled 180m. The company blamed 'global uncertainty' on the reduction, and with over 1,800 jobs dependent on the Bridgend plant, I called on the government to do more to offer Ford certainty that post-Brexit they would be able to operate in Wales without tariffs and on the same terms as competitors such as Nissan.

In refusing to give guarantees to Ford, Alan Cairns is offering businesses in Wales a worse deal than those in Scotland or Northern Ireland, after his cabinet colleagues David Mundell and James Brokenshire committed at the despatch box to offering the same protections for businesses in Scotland and Northern Ireland as those offered to businesses in England.

Alan Cairns must be embarrassed by his complete absence of influence around the Cabinet table. Today he demonstrated his failure to stand up for people in Wales by refusing to protect the loans already funding vital works across the country.

The lack of clarity from Theresa May on her post-Brexit plans is creating huge uncertainty for businesses in Wales and putting the future of sites such as Ford plant in Bridgend at risk. We need to know what the terms of future trade will be, and instead of secret deals company by company, to protect jobs in Wales they need to know that major employers like Ford will be offered the same guarantees on tariffs as their competitors

 

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Full transcript: 


Jo Stevens MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales

Ford announced in September that they would guarantee around a third of the 1,800-strong workforce at Bridgend. These jobs are vital to the local community and to the supply chain in Wales but uncertainty caused by the government's lack of commitment post 2020. The lack of any plan for Brexit leaves doubt over the plant's future.  So will the Secretary of State today commit to giving the same deal to Ford as it recently did to Nissan to secure their future in the UK post-Brexit? 

Alun Cairns MP, Secretary of State for Wales

The honourable lady raises an important point and my understanding of the situation in Ford is they are continuing with £100million more of investment, this demonstrates the confidence that ford is showing not only to the people in Bridgend but also in the UK economy. It builds on the strength of the automotive sector and the strength of the UK and Welsh economy as a whole. 

Jo Stevens MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales
More than £2bn of capital investment over the last decade in a wide range of sectors, including social housing, transport, energy, water and education through the European Investment Bank. What plans has the Secretary of State put in place to mitigate the potentially disastrous consequences of leaving the European Union on pre-existing European Investment bank loans to organisations & public bodies in Wales, and crucially what plans does he have to replace the funding they have been able to provide?

Alun Cairns MP, Secretary of State for Wales

Our negotiations and conversations with the EIB will run in parallel with our conversations with the European Commission. But the honourable lady really does have a responsibility to try and instil some confidence rather than undermine investments in Wales. My Rt Hon Friend the Chancellor only last week announced a further cash injection of £436 million in capital, I’d hope the Honourable lady would rather welcome that rather than undermine investment, undermine employment and undermine jobs. It really doesn’t become of her.  

 

You can watch the exchange here:

 

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