EU Referendum

EU referendum: Jones fears for jobs after Brexit vote

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Media captionEU vote: 'Time for Wales to unite', says Carwyn Jones

First Minister Carwyn Jones has said he fears jobs will be lost in Wales after the UK voted to leave the EU.

In Thursday's referendum 52.5% of voters in Wales backed Leave, compared with 47.5% supporting Remain.

Calling for unity in Wales, Mr Jones warned it was "now more difficult to attract investment into Wales and keep jobs in Wales".

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies accused him of continuing the Remain camp's "Project Fear".

Mr Jones welcomed David Cameron's offer for Welsh ministers to be included in Brexit negotiations, saying it was important as he did not trust UK ministers to represent Wales' best interests.

Mr Cameron has announced he will step down as prime minister by October but would seek to "steady the ship" between now and then.

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Media captionEU vote: Not a time 'to gloat' says Monmouth MP David Davies

The first minister - who backed the UK to stay in the EU - said his administration wanted to provide stability while the UK government was in "turmoil".

After making a statement at the Welsh Government's headquarters in Cardiff, Mr Jones was asked if the Brexit vote would have consequences for Welsh jobs.

"I fear there will be," he said.

"We'll be working hard to make sure that doesn't happen but yes it is right to say that it is now more difficult to attract investment into Wales and keep jobs in Wales.

"For the simple reason that we have uncertainty and we've seen what happened with the markets this morning.

"My worry is and was that our competitors elsewhere in Europe will be able to say to any investor 'we can guarantee you access to a market of 500m [people]' and we won't be able to give that guarantee."

Mr Jones promised Welsh ministers would "have to work very hard to overcome" that hurdle.

In his statement, he outlined "six priorities arising from these changed circumstances".

They are to:

  • protect jobs and economic confidence
  • play a full part in discussions on EU withdrawal
  • retain access to the European single market
  • negotiate continued involvement in major EU funding programmes, such as for farming and poorer areas
  • revise the Treasury's funding formula for the Welsh Government budget
  • put the relationship between devolved administrations and the UK government on an "entirely different footing"
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Image caption David Cameron announced his resignation plans soon after the Leave vote was declared

Mr Jones said: "Now is the time for Wales to unite and to think clearly about our future.

"Even before yesterday's vote I said that no one party had the monopoly on good ideas, and now more than ever, we must rely on the abilities of all."

He would be the first minister for "the whole of Wales", he promised.

"No matter how you voted yesterday, no matter how you voted in May, this Welsh Government will fight for your interests."

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EU referendum live: Wales votes Leave reaction

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Media captionLeave camp 'must deliver' on promises, says Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns, who campaigned for a Remain vote, said he was speaking to Mr Jones, would "continue a regular dialogue" with him and "ensure that Wales' voice is heard at the negotiations with the European Union as we start to untangle from the current position".

Mr Cairns said people should not worry about the current situation.

"The most important thing for us is to really show people that governments are working together, that through this turbulent time that the political levers are absolutely coordinating properly," he added.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said the major focus should be on ensuring political and economic stability in Wales and the rest of the UK.

"With Scotland voting to remain and a second independence referendum now on the cards, it is clear that the UK cannot continue in its current form," she said.

"Wales, its economy and its communities will soon be at the full mercy of the Westminster elite and robust action must be taken to mitigate the impact of this.

"All the promises made by the Leave campaign, with regards to safeguarding grants and financial support for Wales and our NHS must now be fully honoured, not only up to 2020 under current EU programmes, but beyond that into the future."

Image caption Neil Hamilton says political parties must 'work together to make the most of our new freedoms'

UKIP's leader in the assembly, Neil Hamilton, has demanded UK ministers give the Welsh Government "every penny of British taxpayers' money which the EU currently spends in Wales".

"We demand our fair share of the £10bn of our money which Brussels spends outside Britain every year - that would be at least £500m a year extra for Welsh projects, including the NHS," he said.

"We must also take back control of our trade policy as soon as possible and slap effective tariffs on dumped Chinese steel to help save Port Talbot."

'Great opportunity'

Acknowledging the fears many people had over the consequences of Brexit, Welsh Leave campaigner David Davies urged the group's supporters not to "gloat".

The Conservative MP for Monmouth said: "I think that one of the reasons why people came out was that they felt that the mainstream political parties had not been listening to them enough, we should not fall into that mistake now.

"We should remember that yes, we have won, that's tremendous, I'm very happy about that but a lot of people out there have got concerns.

"We need to be thinking about those people and offering a bit of reassurance, rather that sort of gloating and rubbing it in."

Andrew RT Davies, who also campaigned to leave the EU, expressed similar sentiments but said he believed the vote result was a "great opportunity for Wales to benefit economically, socially and culturally".

"Politicians of all colours must work tirelessly to reflect all views, and to achieve a strong and lasting settlement that benefits all parts of the United Kingdom, and indeed our friends and allies in Europe," he said.

Analysis by Nick Servini, BBC Wales political editor

It was a downbeat Carwyn Jones who addressed reporters.

There were some difficult questions for him. Among them, how such a chasm has opened up between the leadership of Welsh Labour and so many of its traditional supporters, and why Labour began campaigning at such a late stage.

He said he did not accept responsibility for the result, saying he did everything he was asked to do, and insisted he never wanted the referendum to take place so soon after the assembly election, which stretched all the resources of the party.

But he admitted a disconnect had opened up and he needed to fully understand what had happened by listening.

Carwyn Jones said too many communities felt left behind and there was a real task to undo that sense of alienation.

The balancing act he had to strike was expressing his disappointment with the result while at the same time accepting the wishes of so many communities once dominated by Labour.

The inevitable call for unity was also made in the face of what he called the "vitriol" in the campaign and a period of calm.

The first minister says he wants to be part of the top team involved in any renegotiation in Brussels, and has called for a reappraisal of the way Wales is funded from Westminster, in the light of a Brexit.

But in terms of the details, he admitted himself we were in "unchartered territory".

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