Let them eat steak: Brexit, planes and automobiles

Stephen Crabb MP
Image caption Former cabinet minister Stephen Crabb wants 'full single market-style benefits' for the Welsh aerospace and automotive industries after Brexit.

It was more like Brexit Questions than Welsh Questions, with 11 of the 14 questions tabled focused on Britain leaving the EU.

We know that Theresa May's government won't provide a running commentary on the Brexit process so what did we learn today?

With the government looking at protecting certain industries in Brexit negotiations, former Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb highlighted the importance of Europe to the automotive and aerospace industries in Wales.

He asked Alun Cairns: "Given that Brexit probably won't mean retaining full membership of the single market will you nevertheless commit to fighting and doing everything you possibly can to retain full single market-style benefits for those critically important sectors in the Welsh economy?"

Mr Cairns told him the UK had landed some important investments. "We want to retain the most open market arrangements and I think the confidence shown by Nissan demonstrates that they understand the priority we are placing on that."

Labour's shadow Welsh Secretary Jo Stevens wanted Ford in Bridgend to be offered the same deal as Nissan in Sunderland. She also highlighted the "potentially disastrous" impact of the loss of European Investment Bank funding.

'Red meat'

Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats were worried about the impact of Brexit on farming and the Welsh red meat industry. Plaid parliamentary leader Hywel Williams (no vegetarian, he) asked Mr Cairns what steps he was taking "to ensure that in the future French, Italian, Spanish and German people continue to have Welsh meat and eat it?"

Alun Cairns and Guto Bebb gave little away about the government's plans. We did learn that Wales is "open for business" - whatever that means - and that Mr Cairns had had meetings with "key stakeholders".

On European funding, he suggested that Brexit offered an opportunity to do things differently with regional funds, again questioning how well £4 billion has been spent in the poorest parts of Wales over 16 years.

Mr Bebb sidestepped a question from Labour MP Paul Flynn who invited him to condemn the suggestion from Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies that after Brexit farm subsidies be decided at Westminster rather than in Cardiff.

But Ministers agreed that they they do want people in EU countries to have access to Welsh red meat. To have their steak and eat it, to coin a phrase.