Wales politics

Brexit a big challenge, minister David Jones admits

David Jones
Image caption David Jones is part of the UK government team of ministers handling Brexit

Leaving the European Union will "not be brief nor straightforward" and presents a "big challenge" to the UK, Brexit Minister David Jones has admitted.

He told a conference in Swansea that Wales was "well poised" to benefit from a new relationship with other nations.

On triggering the Brexit process, Mr Jones insisted "we cannot rush that decision" because of its importance.

Wales' Finance Minister Mark Drakeford said Welsh ministers should attend when devolved areas come up in Brexit talks.

In his speech to the event at Swansea University, Mr Jones sought to soothe fears that Brexit could make it more difficult to access European research funding and for foreign academics to come to the UK.

He said "leaving the EU does not and must not mean pulling up the drawbridge".

Mr Jones insisted that universities needed the ability to access the best minds "wherever they come from" and that future access to European research funding was very important.

Image caption Baroness Morgan says the health service is already facing recruitment problems

Mr Drakeford told the conference that the Welsh Government had a 10-point list that formed the basis of the Welsh Government's position on Brexit negotiations.

He said that the list included a demand for recognition that Welsh ministers would always be in charge of devolved areas such as agriculture, where the EU currently plays a significant role.

Mr Drakeford stressed that Welsh ministers should be "in the room" when devolved areas were discussed as part of the Brexit talks.

Baroness Morgan, also attending the event, warned beforehand that Brexit was already having an impact on staff recruitment in public services, especially in the health service.

"The fact is that there's an impact of the noise around immigration," the former MEP told BBC Wales.

"It is more difficult to recruit already. It is hitting public services."

She added: "I think people need to start thinking about what price they are prepared to pay for curtailing immigration to this country.

"If you ignore what the public were telling us on immigration I think you are in a very dangerous place politically."

However, UKIP AM Mark Reckless said: "I think it is very hard for politicians who strongly supported the EU, such as Eluned, to come to terms with the referendum result.

"Most people want to control immigration and cut numbers.

"We don't want employers to hold down wages by constantly recruiting from abroad."

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