Plaid Cymru has written to the UK Chancellor demanding Brexit promises are delivered in the budget on Wednesday.
The party’s Treasury spokesperson in Westminster, Jonathan Edwards MP, and the Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance in the National Assembly, Steffan Lewis AM, have written a joint letter to the Chancellor listing five Brexit-related demands for the Budget.
The party is urging the British Government to honour promises made during the referendum on leaving the European Union that Wales will continue to receive the same levels of funding after Brexit, including agriculture payments, structural funds and research and development funding, as well as a significant boost to NHS funding.
Mr Edwards and Mr Lewis are also calling for the Chancellor to commit the British Government to taking a “four-nations” approach to trade deals after Brexit, ensuring all four countries in the UK have an equal say on trade deals, protecting each country’s respective interests.
In a veiled attack on the Secretary of State for Wales, the Plaid Cymru spokespeople refer in their letter to an “absence of any effective UK Cabinet presence or voice fighting for Welsh interests.” The Plaid Cymru spokespeople implore the Chancellor to realise that governing the UK means delivering for all four nations, not just England.
The letter calls on the UK Chancellor to:
- Guarantee all agricultural and rural support funding currently provided to Wales through the Common Agricultural Policy, without any time limit or cut-off point, and with policy control resting with Welsh Ministers. Welsh farmers should not receive a penny less following Brexit.
- State that after Brexit happens, you will provide equivalent-value finance to replace all other EU Structural funds, with Welsh Ministers being accountable for how they are spent, and without any arbitrary time limit being placed on such programmes.
- Commit the British Government to take a ‘four-nations approach’ to future trade deals beyond Brexit, ensuring all four countries in the UK agree to external trade deals before they are signed. This would ensure all countries in the UK contribute to trade deal negotiations through consultation, co-decision and forming pan-UK negotiating teams, and would guarantee that future trade deals do not damage the national interests of any UK member country.
- Confirm that Wales will now receive a guaranteed population share of public sector Research and Development Funding, with money allocated through the Welsh block grant or some other transparent mechanism.
- Give Wales the option of an NHS Boost by announcing that there will be English investment in the NHS after Brexit, triggering Barnettised shares for the other nations.
Commenting, Plaid Cymru’s treasury spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP, said:
“The British Government has made a series of promises to the people of Wales in an attempt to win our support for their disastrous Brexit mirage. Those promises must now be realised.
“Every single penny that Wales receives thanks to the EU’s redistributive wealth policies must be guaranteed beyond the end of this parliament so that we can continue to support our crucial agriculture sector and so that our own Government in Cardiff can counter the chronic underinvestment in our economic infrastructure from Westminster.
“Taking back control mustn’t mean the people of Wales being forced to cede control to Westminster only for Westminster to sign away Welsh interests in trade deals that crowd out Welsh goods. Wales is a member of the United Kingdom just as England is and we should have equal say on future trade deals, to make sure they expand our economic opportunities, not contract them.”
Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Steffan Lewis AM, added:
“Wales has grown used to expecting under-investment in our services and communities from Westminster. Explicit promises were made to Wales during the EU referendum and the Chancellor must honour those promises.
“He should commit to protecting current levels of agriculture payments and structural funding; and give Wales it’s fair population share of Research & Development funding. We must also get the boost to NHS funding that was so blatantly promised to us.”