Wales politics

Brexit: No need for hasty EU departure, says WLGA

EU and Wales flags

The UK has no need to be hasty withdrawing from the EU, the body representing Welsh councils has said.

WLGA chief executive Steve Thomas said the next prime minister must give public spending assurances before triggering the two-year Brexit process.

On Tuesday, the first minister said the procedure, known as Article 50, should begin "sooner rather than later".

But Welsh Labour MEP Derek Vaughan said the UK government's negotiating position must be made clear first.

Mr Thomas said councils wanted to ensure as much stability as possible following the vote to leave the UK, and there was "no need to be hasty".

"Continuity and stability are the key," he told BBC Wales.

"The next prime minister has to get on with the job [of invoking Article 50] but there must be necessary guarantees and funding in place.

"Article 50 will probably be triggered in the autumn.

"More public sector cuts in an emergency budget would cause huge problems in the public sector."

Chancellor George Osborne has warned tax rises and spending cuts will be needed to deal with the "shock" to the UK economy caused by the Brexit vote.

'No special treatment'

Leaving the EU has to be negotiated with the union's remaining 27 members and approved by them by qualified majority.

Mr Vaughan said all the EU institutions, including the European Parliament, wanted the UK to activate Article 50 as soon as possible but Labour MEPs took a "slightly different view".

"We would say that we need to know clearly from the UK government what the negotiation position is before we trigger it," he said.

"Do they want access to the single market or some other trade arrangements?"

Image caption Steve Thomas says stability should be the priority at the moment

Asked if there was potential for the UK to be given access to the single market with a watered down version of the freedom of movement rules, Mr Vaughan said: "No."

"If they all decide that there will be some tweaking to freedom of movement rules that will apply to everybody, but they are not going to give special treatment to the UK."

Mr Vaughan summed up the mood in the European Parliament as "like it's been a bereavement".

"The parliament is very gloomy, very sombre, very sad," he added.

"Whenever we see anybody they come and express their condolences and shock. We have even had flowers sent to the office."

On Tuesday First Minister Carwyn Jones told AMs: "My view is that Article 50 should be triggered sooner rather than later.

"I think waiting months and months and months for it just adds to that uncertainty."

Meanwhile, Mr Jones will stress "racism has absolutely no place in Wales" when he meets Llanelli's Polish Welsh Association and people helped by the Ethnic Youth Support Team in Swansea later.

It follows concerns that there has been an increase in racial tension following the Brexit vote.

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