Fury as Brexit min­is­ters fail to visit the Welsh ports

Bangor Mail - - NEWS -

BREXIT min­is­ters in charge of ne­go­ti­a­tions on be­half of the UK Govern­ment have not vis­ited Welsh ports since the ref­er­en­dum in June 2016.

In a House of Com­mons Par­lia­men­tary Ques­tion by Ar­fon Plaid Cymru MP Hy­wel Williams, it was re­vealed Lord Bridges, David Jones, Robin Walker and Suella Braver­man have made eight vis­its to ports in other parts of the UK.

But not once have they been to Holy­head, An­gle­sey or Fish­guard, Pem­brokeshire, in Wales.

Holy­head Port is the UK’s sec­ond busiest af­ter Dover, and the most pop­u­lar route for trade with Ireland and as an en­try point into Euro­pean mar­kets.

Mr Williams and Ynys Môn Labour MP Al­bert Owen fear Ir­ish trade could go to ports in north­ern Spain, Zee­brugge and Rotterdam, direct from Cork and Dublin.

Such a move would mean a re­duc­tion in the weekly £1bn of trade with Ireland and jobs be­ing lost.

Bosses at Ir­ish Fer­ries have said pre­vi­ously that the rein­tro­duc­tion of Cus­toms checks could lead to “UK plc quickly grind­ing to a halt”.

Mean­while, Stena Line chiefs have said Cus­toms checks could dis­turb the whole “open port” busi­ness model of Holy­head.

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster Brexit spokesman Mr Williams said the fact Brexit Min­is­ters had failed to visit Welsh ports was “sadly in­dica­tive of a wider dis­re­gard to­wards Welsh in­ter­ests in Westminster.”

Mr Williams, a Brexit Com­mit­tee mem­ber, said: “The 400,000 lor­ries and trail­ers that pass through the port ev­ery year cur­rently do so freely with very min­i­mal de­lay.

“If we leave the Sin­gle Mar­ket and Cus­toms Union, this will have to change.

“The UK Govern­ment needs to take the fate of Welsh ports se­ri­ously, and a log­i­cal first step would be for Brexit Min­is­ters to ac­tu­ally visit Holy­head.

“It is this com­plete con­tempt to­wards Welsh in­ter­ests that mo­ti­vates Plaid Cymru’s ar­gu­ment that Wales should have a direct say on our fu­ture re­lat– ion­ship with Europe, rather than re­ly­ing on a Westminster Govern­ment that has al­ready proven it­self to be com­pletely dis­in­ter­ested.”

Holy­head Port man­ager, Wyn Parry, has met with the Trea­sury Brexit team and said Welsh ports were not be­ing ig­nored.

He said: “We have had a num­ber of vis­its from a num­ber of Govern­ment de­part­ments.

“It’s not that we haven’t. We have had sev­eral peo­ple to the port. “We’re not be­ing ig­nored.” How­ever, Mr Parry con­ceded: “We haven’t had teams of Min­is­ters ar­riv­ing.”

The Depart­ment for Ex­it­ing the Euro­pean Union (DExEU) spokesman said they are work­ing to agree a deal with the EU that works for the whole of the UK, in­clud­ing Wales.

He said: “The de­volved ad­min­is­tra­tions are fully en­gaged in this process.

“DExEU min­is­ters, in­clud­ing the Sec­re­tary of State David Davis, have vis­ited Wales to lis­ten to the con­cerns of peo­ple and busi­nesses and out­line our plans for our fu­ture re­lat– ion­ship with the EU.

“We un­der­stand how crit­i­cal it is to keep trade flow­ing when we leave. This is why we’ve creat– ed the Bor­der Plan­ning Group and en­gaged ex­ten­sively with rep­re­sen­ta­tive from UK ports to en­sure we iden­tify and mit– igate risks when it comes to our readi­ness.”

Holy­head Port bosses in­sist they are not be­ing ig­nored in Brexit dis­cus­sions, de­spite the fact that no Govern­ment min­is­ters have vis­ited

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