Wales politics

Brexit advisory group a scramble for ideas, Tory claims

Carwyn Jones
Image caption Carwyn Jones pledges to secure 'the best possible outcome for Wales' after Brexit

The first minister has been accused of "arrogance" by the Welsh Tory leader for failing to plan for Wales' future outside the European Union.

Andrew RT Davies criticised Carwyn Jones's plan for a panel of advisers to help him respond to Brexit as a "last-minute scramble for ideas".

Business leaders and Europe experts will be asked how Wales can prosper.

Mr Davies - who backed Brexit - hailed "an invaluable opportunity to shape a new future for Wales outside the EU".

The Welsh Government said the advisory group would be made up of "business people, politicians and experts with a detailed understanding of the European Union" but would not reveal any names.

Mr Jones - who supported the Remain campaign - has been accused by a senior academic of a "lethargic" response to the June referendum vote for the UK to leave the EU, backed by a majority of voters in Wales.

The first minister is keen to ensure the nation's exporters can still sell their goods tariff-free via the single market.

"My immediate focus since the EU referendum result has been on protecting our economy and providing assurance to Wales' business community," he said.

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Media captionAndrew RT Davies says the first minister has been 'very slow' to prepare for Brexit

"We will ensure our national interests are set out clearly and the best possible outcome for Wales is secured."

Mr Davies was scornful of the announcement of an advisory group, saying: "This last-minute scramble for ideas is really something the Welsh Government should have been planning for in the weeks leading up to the referendum.

"It is a shame that the first minister is only now consulting the business community on this crucial matter, given that in the build up to the leave vote he met with a paltry nine business leaders, betraying his arrogance and complacency about the result.

"Any advisory group pertaining to our departure from the EU must involve all viewpoints to ensure the opinions of those who campaigned on either side of the referendum can be taken on board.

"There is now an invaluable opportunity to shape a new future for Wales outside the EU and Welsh Conservatives stand ready to support the delivery of this exciting transition."

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Media captionSimon Thomas AM said this would benefit Wales

The first minister has also pledged to involve Plaid Cymru in Brexit planning via a "new dialogue" under the existing agreement which keeps Welsh Labour in power in Cardiff Bay.

Labour and Plaid already have liaison committees on finance, legislation and the constitution.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said: "We are committed to making Wales a success story, regardless of the challenges we face."

Analysis by Daniel Davies, BBC Wales political correspondent

Invitations to join Carwyn Jones's advisory group on Brexit have been sent, but formal responses have not been received yet. That is why no names have been announced.

The Welsh Government stresses this is not a political group. Ministers want advisers with expertise and experience, rather than gathering opinions for and against staying in the EU, one official said.

That might not please Brexiteers like the Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies, who said the first minister must speak to campaigners from either side of the referendum.

We can expect some of the usual suspects to be involved. The CBI and TUC will be asked to nominate representatives of the business lobby and trades unions, for example.

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