The Welsh Labour Government’s First Minister for Wales – Carwyn Jones – has attempted to distance himself from the E U Referendum, has tacitly admitted his administration had made no contingency preparations for the possibility of a “Leave” vote and has avoided promising any role for Leave supporters in forthcoming advisory talks.
Jones’s Welsh Labour/Liberal Coalition Government does not have a majority in the Welsh Assembly and had backed the Remain campaign in the EU Referendum – a decision which turned out to be totally at odds with the majority view of voters in Wales who backed “Leave” by 854,572 votes – a majority of 5% on a massive 71% turn out.
In the Welsh Assembly Penarth AM and Conservative Leader Andrew R T Davies [who supported the victorious Leave campaign ] asked Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones whether he had “engaged fully” and had not looked at the European Referendum as “someone else’s referendum” [ First Minister Jones had implied, in a Sunday radio interview, that the E U referendum was David Cameron’s idea- and nothing to do with him – even though theoretically both were on the same side – supporting “Remain”] .
The First Minister dodged the question and replied – grudgingly – “Well, it’s not the ground that I would have chosen – or the timing. I told the Prime Minister that, but it’s important that we had the referendum and the result is now known”
Davies retorted “That’s hardly a ringing endorsement, is it First Minister?”
Davies also asked First Minister Jones whether he had commissioned any preparatory work within the Welsh Government in anticipation of a possible “Leave” result . First Minister Jones again dodged the question – implying that the Welsh Government had done no contingency planning at all . He went on to claim the outcome was “impossible to model”.
In a third question the First Minister was asked – in effect – whether he would ensure that the views of the Leave campaign and its supporters would be represented in the Welsh committee being set up to advise the Westminster Government as it negotiates Brexit.[Earlier the Welsh Labour Government had rejected the idea of involving any Leave viewpoints in the advisory negotiations] .
The First Minister avoided this question too and blustered that Andrew R T Davies should “start looking at things as if he was Welsh”. He undertook that the Welsh Labour Government would “start explaining the way forward as far as we are concerned bearing in mind what people have said” [ i.e. voted to Leave the E U ] – but he gave no undertakings that Vote Leave views (the view of the majority of people in Wales) would be represented in any forthcoming discussions.
Jones demanded that “every penny” of money currently allocated to Wales by the EU – [after having been originally paid over to the EU by the UK Government] should be paid to the Welsh Labour Government by the UK Government on leaving the EU.
A former Labour special advisor, Cathy Owens, told BBC Wales that Carwyn Jones was “livid”.
She went on to say “You can tell from his responses he is absolutely furious. He knows that it’s quite unlikely he is going to be able to deliver on the manifesto on which he has been elected because the money that the Welsh Government gets is about to fall off a cliff”.
Other observers noted that Carwyn Jones had outlined no strategy for making Wales less aid-dependent and a more self-sufficient, dynamic and productive country.