EU Referendum

Brexit backer Dyson 'rejected Wales', Rhodri Morgan says

Andrew RT Davies and Rhodri Morgan
Image caption Andrew RT Davies and Rhodri Morgan clashed over whether the UK was better off in or out of the EU

A Brexit-backing businessman rejected appeals to set up a manufacturing base in Wales in favour of Malaysia, former First Minister Rhodri Morgan has said.

He was responding to Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies, who highlighted vacuum cleaner tycoon Sir James Dyson's support as a reason to leave the EU.

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales, Mr Morgan said Sir James was not only backing Brexit, but "backing Malaysia" too.

Mr Davies said the views of a "global entrepreneur" should be heeded.

Sir James Dyson, who pioneered the bagless vacuum cleaner, caused controversy in 2002 when he announced he was closing his factory at Malmesbury, Wiltshire, with the loss of around 800 jobs.

He said at the time he had "agonised" over the decision, but said it was far cheaper to make his products in the far east.

Naming him as a leading voice for the UK to leave the EU, Mr Davies said: "James Dyson, one of the most successful entrepreneurs this country has produced, has clearly come out and said the economy will benefit from Brexit."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sir James Dyson switched manufacturing from Wiltshire to Malaysia in 2002

Mr Morgan retorted: "James Dyson is the person who decided to do all his manufacturing in Malaysia.

"We made him an offer on several occasions to try to get him to come to Wales because he couldn't hire workers in the Marlborough area of Wiltshire.

"But no, he went to Malaysia, so let's not listen too much.

"A brilliant guy, absolutely, but he doesn't manufacture anything in the UK."

Mr Davies defended the views of Sir James, saying: "He's a global entrepreneur who is bringing manufacturing back to the UK and has kept the hi-tech part of the business at the home company base in Wiltshire.

"He is a self-made individual who has clearly looked at the numbers and has clearly made that choice [to manufacture in Malaysia].

"He knows how to run a company, he knows how to make money and he knows how to employ people. And ultimately he's a successful individual who's backing Brexit."

"Backing Malaysia too," Mr Morgan replied.

The Dyson company has been asked to comment.

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