Leaving the EU: Business Preparations

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons on 27th February 2019.

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Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove Conservative, Corby

What recent discussions he has had with businesses in Wales on preparations for the UK leaving the EU.

Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns The Secretary of State for Wales

Since the referendum I have been talking to stakeholders the length and breadth of Wales on the implications of EU exit. This includes the discussions I have had with my expert panel and economic advisory board, which met again last month.

Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove Conservative, Corby

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that answer, but what steps is his Department taking specifically to support small businesses reliant on tourism in Wales?

Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns The Secretary of State for Wales

My hon. Friend is a great champion of his constituency, and I have no doubt that people in Corby and east Northamptonshire will want to visit Wales regularly. This is a great opportunity to highlight Wales Week in London. Wales Week has gone global this year, being held in New York, in Washington and in all parts of the UK. I would be interested in seeing what we can do in my hon. Friend’s constituency next year.

Photo of Anna McMorrin Anna McMorrin Labour, Cardiff North

My constituent’s restaurant business is under threat because of this Brexit chaos. His Polish and Hungarian staff, who have been with him from the start, have left, and the pound is plummeting, causing huge challenge to him. Does the Secretary of State believe that this chaotic Brexit is really making Wales a more attractive place for visitors?

Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns The Secretary of State for Wales

There is absolutely no reason why those employees should have left, because we have respected their rights. I only hope and wish that as we continue to negotiate, all the rights of UK nationals living in the European Union will be respected in exactly the same way. The hon. Lady voted against the Prime Minister’s deal with the European Union, and by doing so she is making no deal far more likely. So I would encourage her to look objectively at the data, and to support the meaningful vote when it comes up.

Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling

What discussions has my right hon. Friend had with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy about relocating the resources that are concentrated on Victoria Street into Wales and into Scotland?

Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns The Secretary of State for Wales

My hon. Friend makes an important point. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office already has an agenda to take as many jobs as possible out of Whitehall and relocate them across the rest of the UK on an ongoing basis. Leaving the European Union will bring new responsibilities. I think there is an opportunity for my hon. Friend’s constituency, and I shall be seeking to play my part in ensuring that Wales benefits too.

Photo of Hywel Williams Hywel Williams Shadow PC Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Brexit), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Cabinet Office), Shadow PC Spokesperson (International Trade)

In respect of Welsh business preparation for Brexit, can the Secretary of State tell me how many of the hundreds of Government Brexit work streams have been allocated exclusively or primarily to the Wales Office?

Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns The Secretary of State for Wales

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Wales Office sits and acts right across the whole of Government, but my prime lead is with the Welsh Government. We have now ensured that they sit on the European Union Exit and Trade (Preparedness) Sub-Committee, and as I mentioned earlier, I only hope that they will similarly invite a UK Government representative to sit on their equivalent Committee.