Brexit: David Davis urges 'cool heads' in CBI Wales speech

By Sarah Dickins
BBC Wales economics correspondent

  • Published
Media caption,
Brexit Secretary David Davis said Wales is well placed to benefit

Welsh businesses are being urged to help write a "new and exciting chapter in the country's history" after the UK leaves the European Union.

Speaking at the CBI Wales annual dinner, Brexit Secretary David Davis called for "cool heads" in a period of uncertainty.

Earlier, he visited hi-tech firm SPTS Technologies in Newport.

He said no Brexit options would be ruled in or out but the UK government would get "the best deal for Britain".

Mr Davis, speaking to 400 industry leaders at the dinner in Cardiff on Thursday evening, asked them to be confident about the future as the UK seeks "not a bitter divorce, but a better relationship" with the EU.

"Our challenge is to navigate a period of inevitable uncertainty with cool heads and a united sense of purpose and confidence," Mr Davis he said.

"Suggestions that the UK might somehow reverse its decision aren't just misleading, they risk undermining our negotiating position and adding to uncertainty.

"And a second referendum would give those on the other side in the negotiations an incentive to give us the worst possible deal to try to force the British people to change their minds.

"The Welsh economy is in good shape for the road ahead and remains fundamentally strong, highly competitive and open for business."

Earlier in the House of Commons, Mr Davis said the UK would consider making payments to the EU after it leaves the bloc to secure the best possible access to the EU single market.

Mr Davis then travelled to south Wales to join a tour of SPTS Technologies, just off the M4, with Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns and Brexit Minister David Jones.

Image caption,
David Davis toured semi-conductor firm SPTS Technologies, which has been at Coldra, Newport for 20 years

The high-tech firm has grown steadily and now employs 280 on its site at Coldra.

It was an interesting choice for the Brexit Secretary as it is a company that trades globally and has international staff.

In fact, it sometimes has to hire staff from other EU nations because they cannot find the skills here in the UK.

STPS makes the machines that in turn make the leading edge technology that ends up in a range of devices, from sensors in airbags, parts of smart phones and LED lighting.

It exports all over the world, with 30% of customers in the EU. At the moment, if a client within the EU has a problem with one of its machines, a worker flies out to sort it out.

That could change depending on what the UK agrees as part of Brexit.

It is hard to imagine that the company did not spell that out to Mr Davis during his company tour.

"We are facing both challenges and opportunities following Brexit," said Mr Cairns.

"We will deliver a deal that ensures our exit from the EU will be a success for the whole of the UK, including Wales."