- July 5, 2016
- Posted by: David Rees AM
- Category: Latest News
It’s been one week since we all went to vote on our future in the EU. I supported a remain vote, hoping that the benefits we had gained to date would continue, but as we know the majority of people who voted in our town, Wales and the UK wanted the UK to leave the EU. This democratic decision must be respected and as your elected representative I will work to ensure that the people of Aberavon & Wales will get the best possible benefit of any negotiation as the UK undertakes the work to complete an exit from EU membership.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that there will be economic turbulence in the coming months, maybe years, and we need to put policies/actions into place to minimise the impact of the uncertainty that has consequently arisen. Economic confidence & stability must be re-established as quickly as possible.
Our priority in Port Talbot must be the future of the steel works. The Brexit decision must not be allowed to derail the sale process currently underway by TATA and the UK government cannot allow itself to be distracted from ensuring the deal on the future of the British Steel Pension Scheme comes to a successful conclusion.
A consultation by the DWP on the future of the BSPS has now come to an end and we need the government to analyse the results and come to a conclusion quickly to allow the process to progress.
I am worried that two of the major figures in the UK government on this matter, Sajid Javid & Stephen Crabb, will focus their attention on the leadership contest in the conservative party (with Stephen Crabb wanting to be the next PM & Sajid Javid acting as his campaign manager) and not on dealing with the BSPS and the future of our steel industry. This is a critical time and they can’t be allowed to take their eyes off the ball on this.
We also cannot ignore the decision of the Prime Minister to resign – leaving us to ask: who now leads the campaign to Save Our Steel within the UK government? There wasn’t much enthusiasm in Whitehall before the decision by TATA in March to sell TATA Steel UK and there appears to be less now.
We need a government that is committed to a steel industry in the UK and to protecting the thousands of jobs at stake both within TATA Steel UK and within all of the contractors/Supply Chain businesses that serve it. If David Cameron wants to leave any form of positive legacy here in South Wales perhaps he could publicly lead on this and ensure that this is successfully concluded to give our steelworkers and their families a more secure future.
Beyond steel and as the UK now moves towards negotiations on our exit from the EU with the disentanglement of the various strands of legal and political threads that exist between us, it is important that all devolved nations are included in those negotiations. The Welsh Government must be part of the decision making process on the terms and timing of our departure from the EU and on the future arrangements for trading both with the EU and other nations. Welsh interest must be represented by the Welsh Government at the table. It is clear from a variety of comments by leaders across Europe that this will be challenging and we need to ensure our interests are best served throughout these negotiations.
It is also important that the funding streams that will be lost to Wales following our exit from the EU are replaced by the UK government. During the Referendum campaign many promises were made by leaders of the Leave campaign that this would be the case and Wales would not lose a penny of support that would have come from the EU. The Government, which will undoubtedly include many of those who were involved in leading that campaign, now need to honour those promises – yes they were clearly promises.
The years ahead will be challenging and we must all work together to achieve a better Wales and a strong economy to secure our future and that of future generations.