Fury as Brexit ministers fail to visit the Welsh ports
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