Wefan Gymraeg

Brexit deal is a step in the right direction but much more needs to be done

The Welsh Liberal Democrats welcome the progress made by the UK Government and EU on the Irish border, EU citizen’s rights and divorce bill. However, crucial talks over the UK’s relationship with the EU must still take place and time is running out.

The agreement avoids a hard border with Ireland that would have threatened the Good Friday Agreement, reduces the risk of a no deal Brexit, protects the rights of EU citizens in the UK, settles the UK’s bill with the EU and paves the way for talks to progress to the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds commented:

“Whilst this Brexit deal is welcome progress that makes a disastrous no deal Brexit less likely, there is no room for complacency. The 2nd stage of negotiations must be more productive, ambitious and less chaotic than the 1st stage that should have finished months ago. Instead we’re left with limited time to agree the entirety of the UK’s relationship with the EU after Brexit without the benefit of any impact papers.”

“It is vital that the UK government now pursues as close a relationship as possible with the EU after Brexit. Full alignment with elements of the single market and customs union is a step in the right direction but not enough. The Government must pursue full and continued membership of the Single Market and Customs Union to minimise the damage to the Welsh economy.”

“Whatever Brexit deal Theresa May gets after the 2nd stage of negotiations, it will be a worse deal for Wales and for Britain than our current relationship. The British people must be given a vote on the final Brexit deal and the opportunity to choose an exit from Brexit.”

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Kirsty Williams begins drive to improve science and technology in schools

Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams, will officially launch Wales’ new science and technology network today at Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhondda.

The network for excellence will target the improvement of teachers' skills in science and technology and improve pupils' experience of the subjects while they are at school.

More than £4 million is being invested through the network which will play a key role in the Welsh Government’s national mission to raise standards in schools through education reform.

The network involves schools, colleges, universities and the four regional education consortia working together to improve the teaching and learning of science and technology in Wales. 

The new network will:

  • draw together cutting-edge knowledge for teaching practice in science and technology for 3 to 18 year olds.
  • co-ordinate the development and delivery of recognised science and technology professional development for teachers, based on global and local evidence of what works.
  • improve pupils' experiences of science and technology in schools across Wales.
  • enable schools to work together to develop courses, teaching resources and class-based research.

Kirsty Williams said:

“The new science and technology network will play a crucial role in our national mission to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and confidence. 

“The PISA results were clear that we must improve the teaching of science in our schools.  With new qualifications and the shift away from Science BTEC, we are confident that the new network will play a key role in driving up standards in the classroom.

“This new network will bring together higher education, colleges, regional education consortia and lead schools, capturing the best knowledge, expertise and experience for the benefit of our young people.”

 

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Wales needs a new Beveridge Report

75 years on from the publication of the landmark Beveridge Report, the five “giant evils” of want, squalor, disease, ignorance and idleness remain widespread despite the report’s immense impact. Wales needs a new Beveridge Report for the 21st Century to finish the job.

The Beveridge Report created the NHS and the modern welfare state, transforming education, housing and social security. The report’s recommendations were accepted by every party and led to substantially increased life expectancy, full employment and dramatically lower poverty across Britain.

However, across Wales and Britain the five giant evils highlighted by Beveridge remain substantial issues. Child poverty is increasing, health inequalities are growing, in-work poverty is now greater than out-of-work poverty and more and more households are relying on foodbanks, including nurses.

Commenting, Welsh Lib Dem Leader Jane Dodds said;

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats are rightly proud of our history and the role the great Liberal William Beveridge played in creating the modern welfare state. But we are not complacent, Beveridge’s work is far from finished and we will continue to fight for Wales to get the healthcare, housing, education and economy it needs.”

"Beveridge’s reforms worked because they were embraced and implemented by every party. Wales needs a new, cross-party and cross-society Beveridge Commission for the 21st century. Together we can come up with the bold solutions needed to tackle poverty in this century the way Beveridge did last century.”

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No place for President Trump in Wales

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds has condemned President Trump's retweeting of Britain First and called for his state visit to be cancelled.

"There is no place in society for the hatred, division and fear shown by Britain First everyday. To see the supposed leader of the free world give oxygen to such poisonous and divisive views is sickening." 

"The murder of Jo Cox left no doubt that there are very real and devastating consequences to the rhetoric espoused by Britain First. Giving the go ahead to a state visit to a President who has sought to amplify these views would fatally undermine the Government's credibility in standing up to bigotry at home and abroad. President Trump has degraded his own office, and we should not give him the opportunity to do the same to Wales and the UK. The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe in a Wales that is open, tolerant and united. President Trump has no place in that sort of society."

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Social mobility not good enough

Tuesday’s Social Mobility in Great Britain: fifth state of the nation report by the Social Mobility Commission highlights the extent of inequality and the urgent need for greater action by the UK and Welsh Governments to improve social mobility and secure opportunity for Wales.

The report found that an individual’s life chances remain largely determined by the place of their birth, with a striking geographical divide between South East England and the rest of the UK.

Within Wales substantial differences also exist, both between local authorities and between the most and least disadvantaged individuals within each local authority. The report also showed that whilst cities do provide access to better paid jobs, they’re not a silver bullet for social mobility, as some of the worst performing areas in Wales are urban and many of the best performing areas are rural.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds commented:

“This report is a stark reminder of the shocking state of social mobility in the UK, with the rest of the country being left behind once again by South East England. The report rightly calls for the UK Government to direct a greater proportion of spending to the areas that need it most and nowhere in the UK needs it more than Wales.”

“Kirsty Williams is doing fantastic work within the Welsh Government to improve social mobility, making closing the attainment gap part of Wales’ national mission to improve education and increasing the Pupil Development Grant to make this a reality. However, Kirsty cannot solve social mobility on her own, Wales needs a cross-government and cross-society effort to improve social mobility.”

“The same old ideas for improving social mobility will not work, we need bold new solutions. We need a Beveridge Report for the 21st Century to eliminate the 5 evils Beveridge identified 75 years ago and we need to trial groundbreaking policies like Universal Basic Income and Negative Income Tax. Only through ideas like these will we secure opportunity for Wales.”

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Growth deals for Mid and North Wales must revolutionise rural economies

The proposed Mid Wales and North Wales growth deals are a once in a generation chance to develop our rural economies and prepare them for the next 30 years.

Rural economies across Mid and North Wales face immense challenges, none more so than Brexit. The Brexit deal will have severe implications for the financial support for farmers, the ability of rural communities to attract tourism and access to markets for food and drink exports.

However, the Mid Wales and North Wales growth deals are opportunities to utilise the naturual resources and natural beauty across the regions, deliver growth and investment for every area of Wales, give rural communities the digital infrastructure they need and develop the skills base of both regions.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds said:

“Following the Cardiff and Swansea city deals, it is only right that Mid and North Wales are set to get their own growth deals. If these deals are really going to make a difference to rural economies they need to be more than just warm words and vanity projects. They must be ambitious and tailored to the unique needs of Mid and North Wales if they’re to have the transformational benefits our rural economies deserve. “

“Mid and North Wales are blessed with incredible natural resources, universities at the forefront of research and innovation and a skilled and committed workforce. Growth deals must utilise these resources to make the regions powerhouses of the green economy, foster economic growth, fight poverty and give communities the digital and transport infrastructure they need to compete in the global economy.”

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats have always proudly stood up for rural communities and we’ll fight for ambitious growth deals that give Mid and North Wales the opportunities they deserve.”

 

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Industrial Strategy lacks vision

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised the UK Government’s industrial strategy white paper for failing to provide the ambitious vision the Welsh economy needs.

With productivity 19% lower than the UK average, poverty at 23% and economic growth stagnating, the industrial strategy was a golden opportunity to set out a plan to transform the Welsh economy. Instead we have a plan that merely papers over the cracks and fails to take the bold steps needed to ensure prosperity across Wales.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats would give the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon the go ahead, develop tailored growth deals for North and Mid Wales, support Wales’ growing digital economy and fintech sectors and call for Wales to be given more economic tools to decide its own destiny.

Commenting, Welsh Lib Dem Leader Jane Dodds said;

“This strategy was the UK Government’s chance to take real action to improve the Welsh economy, unfortunately it’s all talk and no substance. The Government talk about clean growth whilst continuing to refuse to give the go-ahead to the Swansea Tidal Lagoon and discuss investing in all areas of the UK whilst cancelling crucial investment in Welsh railways. People across Wales will rightly be asking the Government what this strategy will actually do for their communities.”

"Unlike the Government the Welsh Liberal Democrats have an ambitious vision for the Welsh economy. We’d make the UK a world leader in green energy by giving the green light to the Swansea Tidal Lagoon, develop comprehensive growth deals for North and Mid Wales, fight poverty in every corner of Wales and call for Wales to be given the powers it needs to transform its economy. Only the Welsh Liberal Democrats have the ideas needed to secure opportunity for Wales.”

“If the Government are serious about developing Wales’ industry and supporting cutting-edge businesses they don’t need a 255-page document, they need an exit from Brexit. Brexit will limit access to vital European markets for firms like Airbus and Tata, end Wales’ participation in European research and innovation programmes and restrict Wales’ ability to attract the workforce and investment needed to compete in the global economy. The people must be given the final say on the Brexit deal.”

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Trans rights are human rights

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have condemned the wave of transphobic articles that have appeared recently across the media. In the week of Transgender Day of Remembrance, it is more important than ever the press report issues without prejudice and parties come together to stand up for the rights of the transgender community.

Recent days have seen numerous anti-trans scare stories, many ridiculing attempts to prevent transphobic bullying despite the fact 45% of trans school pupils in the UK have attempted suicide. Other articles have willfully misrepresented plans to update the Gender Recognition Act.

Welsh Lib Dem Leader Jane Dodds commented;

"The Welsh Liberal Democrats are rightly proud of our record on transgender issues, including holding the Senedd’s first debate on transgender issues in 2014, successfully campaigning for the establishment of a Gender Identity Clinic in Cardiff and investing £1.4m to strengthen mental health services for schools. However, we know more needs to be done, including improving transgender mental health support and providing inclusive sex and relationship education.”

“Transgender rights are human rights. There is no place for transphobia in a civilized society. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are proud to fight for a Wales that is open, tolerant and united. We believe in a Wales where everyone has the opportunity to live free from hate, bigotry and discrimination and we will not rest until this Wales is a reality.”

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Budget a missed opportunity for Wales

The Chancellor missed a golden opportunity to invest in Wales and deliver equitable growth across the UK, preferring instead to throw money down a Brexit black hole.

Instead of investing in Wales through the Swansea Tidal Lagoon or delivering rail electrification to Swansea the Chancellor has chosen to waste £3bn on a Tory hard Brexit and planning for a no deal Brexit the Government foolishly refuse to rule out.

The Chancellor also failed to take meaningful action on Universal Credit or the public sector pay cap, preferring instead to simply pay lip service to the suffering these policies are causing.

Welsh Lib Dem Leader Jane Dodds commented;

"This budget presents a missed opportunity for Wales. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have presented an ambitious vision for Wales, it is disappointing that the Chancellor lacks this ambition.

Instead of investing in making Wales a world leader in Tidal Energy by giving the green light to the Swansea Tidal Lagoon or giving South Wales the transport investment it needs the Chancellor decided to throw £3bn into a Brexit black hole. It’s clear only the Welsh Liberal Democrats have the ambition and ideas needed to ensure opportunity for Wales.”

“As one of the most deprived regions of the UK and even the EU, Wales has suffered more than most from austerity. With the Chancellor failing to take meaningful action on Universal Credit and the public sector pay cap and growth set to be much slower than expected, this suffering will only continue.

The Chancellor needed to immediately end the roll out of Universal Credit to prevent rising child poverty and homelessness and end the public sector pay cap to end the scandal of public sector workers relying on food banks to survive. It is bitterly disappointing the Chancellor has failed on both counts.”

“This budget is yet another example of the crippling damage Brexit is already doing to the Welsh Economy. Instead of investing in public services or vital infrastructure projects, the Chancellor is spending £3bn preparing for a disastrous no deal Brexit his party foolishly refuse to rule out. The Welsh people deserve to have the final say on the Brexit deal and a chance to choose an exit from Brexit.”

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No deal Brexit no option

Following comments from both Airbus and aerospace industry group ADS, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have demanded the UK Government immediately rules out a no deal Brexit. The UK Government should instead commit to a deal that includes an effective transition period, provides certainty for businesses and ensures as close of a relationship with the EU as possible after Brexit.  

In written evidence to the Commons Business Committee Airbus stated that failure to reach a deal would have “significant consequences” for the company, with new visa requirements affecting the “long-term competitiveness of UK sites.”  The firm added that “if costs increase as a result of the UK leaving the EU, this will inevitably impact future UK investment decisions.”

Speaking to MPs on the Business Committee, Paul Everitt of ADS warned “No deal would be the worst possible outcome, from an industry point of view. We believe that would be chaotic, and unhelpful for this particular sector, and a number of others.”

Welsh Lib Dem Leader Jane Dodds commented;

“The aerospace industry is one of Britain’s most successful high tech sectors and is of particularly importance to Wales, with Airbus’ 6,000 jobs in Broughton making a substantial contribution to the Welsh economy. The UK Government must immediately rule out leaving the EU without a deal and commit to a deal that supports firms like Airbus and protects the jobs they bring to Wales.”

“By continuing to entertain the idea of a no deal Brexit the UK Government are showing just how out of touch they are with the devastating harm Brexit will do to hardworking families whose jobs are at risk if they continue to dismiss the warnings of firms like Airbus. Unfortunately the Government is more concerned with placating its most extreme backbenchers than listening to businesses, whilst the Labour party continue to abdicate their responsibilities by giving the Government a blank cheque on Brexit.”  

“Brexit will risk jobs and is already pushing up prices, it's becoming increasingly clear that we need an exit from Brexit and that the people should be given a vote on the final deal.”

Stuart Robin Baker Vice Chair of Flintshire Liberal Democrats said;

“As an employer of 6,000 people in Flintshire, Airbus’ warning must be taken seriously. It is essential the UK Government gets a Brexit deal that protects jobs at Broughton and ensures key businesses like Airbus can continue to flourish in Flintshire.”

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