In a major speech on Monday, Welsh Government Economy Minister Ken Skates said Brexit represented a fundamental choice about Wales’ economic future.
Speaking to an audience in Cardiff, Ken Skates said Brexit was ‘the fight of our lives’ and that leaders in the Welsh economy should resist the low tax, minimal regulation ‘fantasy’ put forward by Brexiteers in favour of a fairer future for Wales and its economy.
During the speech, the Economy Minister made a series of policy announcements, including a £20 million package of additional funding for businesses planning for Brexit.
The Minister also revealed that the Welsh Government’s Foundational Economy fund is being almost trebled to more than £4 million.
Economy Minister Ken Skates said:
“Quite simply, we are in the fight of our lives. Brexit is a choice about the kind of economy and the kind of community we want to be in Wales in the future.
“There are those who see our exit from the European Union as a chance to construct a very different model of economic growth. A low tax, minimal regulation, shallow protection economy that sees competition through the price of labour as the way to attract investment and opportunity to Wales.
“I fundamentally disagree with that approach and believe that we must go beyond the simplistic, ‘Singapore-on-Sea’ fantasy that some are arguing for. I see too much innovation, too many fantastic skills and too many great ideas in Wales to settle for that kind of truncated, limited vision of our economic future.
“Our task must be to transcend the narrow debates of today and to fashion a social democratic vision of our economic future that builds for the greater good and ensures a fairer deal for working people.
“One where the competition between nations happens through the technology, the innovation and the ideas of our people, not on who can lower their labour standards the furthest or the fastest.
During the speech Economy Minister Skates called for an extension of the Welsh Government’s Economic Contract which ties Welsh Government investment to new standards of fair work and a commitment to decarbonisation.
He said Welsh Government was preparing for a No Deal Brexit, announcing plans for a £20 million package of funding which would support businesses in preparation for Brexit.
The minister also announced that the Welsh Government’s Foundational Economy Fund was also being trebled to more than £4 million to support innovative projects.
Ken Skates added:
“Through our Economic Action Plan we’ve made changes to the way we support economic growth to ensure that we are at the same time addressing the challenges of the future – climate change, fair working conditions and better mental health support.
“In these challenging times, when Brexit is sapping the oxygen of debate, it’s important we keep our focus on these challenges of tomorrow and work together for the greater good, to build the fairer, more inclusive economy we all want to see.