When should we Brexit?

Wales cannot compete with Westminster at the moment when it comes to Brexit drama, but there have been some developments.

The main one is the picture emerging from leading figures about how the UK should respond to the vote, and in particular over timing.

The most high-profile remain campaigner in Wales, the First Minister Carwyn Jones, says we should crack on with a Brexit as soon as possible, while the main leave campaigner, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies, says the public should have a say on a final renegotiated settlement, via a general election or a referendum.

I would have expected the roles to be reversed, in particular Mr Davies' comments smack of a remain campaigner struggling to come to terms with the result.

It is not being shared by other prominent leave campaigners. Chris Grayling says another referendum would be a bit like England having a rematch with Iceland in the European championships.


I would also expect there to be a public private sector split on the response. The chief executive of the Welsh Local Government Association Steve Thomas has warned against moving too quickly.

There may be a mindset here of draining as much cash from the EU as possible while we're still in it.

A cabinet member from Flintshire Council was quoted in the Wrexham Leader saying they'd continue to spend EU money until it had gone.

Welsh leave campaigners have looked to calm fears about the impact on the £500m the Welsh Government receives from the EU every year, mainly for regional aid and farming, by saying they will keep the pressure up to ensure Wales doesn't lose out.

Even if that proves to be the case, I don't think you can underestimate the impact on the public sector in Wales.


EU funding in Wales is like a labyrinth which has weaved its way into an enormous range of projects, in particular in-work training, business support and higher education research.

Disentangling this will be an enormous job for civil servants, and then there's the contingency planning that will have to be undertaken.

I'm told no detailed modelling has yet been undertaken but the question is whether the Welsh Government looks at potentially running down EU-funded schemes early, or keeps them going unchanged in the hope that Westminster cash makes up for the loss when Brexit becomes reality.

And then there is the whole question of how those funding streams will be set up. If Wales does receive the same level of funding, would it be given to the Welsh government to decide how to spend it, or would the regional aid and farming cash be ring-fenced for those purposes.

I doubt the farming lobby, or those involved in regeneration projects, would want the funding to go into the wider Welsh government pot and put their income in competition with the demands of the NHS.

I suspect Carwyn Jones' call to move as quickly as possible on a Brexit is spurred on by concerns in the private sector, most notably at Tata steel.


To say the referendum was bad timing for the steel industry is an understatement. The deal took place at arguably the most sensitive moment as Tata sells its UK operations.

It's a point of fact that the vote will have disrupted the process. The question is whether the result will significantly harm the sale.

The latest concerns from sources close to the firm that it could be derailed is the closest yet anyone has come to suggesting that the impact will be more than just a delay.

The inward investment figures are also bound to be a concern but there will be calls to keep the tone of the debate positive.

Andrew RT Davies has already said this week he believes there is a vested interest in making the Brexit project fail because the establishment was on the remain side. He's likely to expand on this theme further in the future.

The argument will be that if enough people latch on to any difficult economic news and blame it on Brexit then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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