Wales politics

Post-Brexit immigration plans will hurt Wales, UK ministers told

Mark Drakeford
Image caption Mark Drakeford says Welsh businesses, Welsh public services and Welsh universities would be harmed

UK ministers have been "unambiguously" told their plans to limit immigration after Brexit will harm Wales, the Welsh finance secretary has said.

Mark Drakeford's comments followed what he called a "difficult" meeting of UK and devolved ministers.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns acknowledged UK and Welsh ministers had "different views" on migration policy.

Last month, Theresa May set out plans to bring down immigration numbers without damaging the economy.

Speaking after the meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee in Westminster, Mr Drakeford said it had been a "game of two halves".

Mr Drakeford, a candidate in the race to succeed Carwyn Jones as Welsh Labour leader and first minister, told BBC Wales: "On one half of the meeting we concentrated on things that we have been talking about for many months, and where I would say there is more evidence of progress, and where closer working with the devolved administrations has seeped into the Whitehall machine to a greater extent.

"On the other side we had our very first opportunity to have a discussion on migration. That was a more difficult discussion certainly."

"I had to set out the reasons why the Welsh Government is fundamentally opposed to the way in which this UK government intends to go about migration, and to explain how their policies would do damage to Welsh businesses, Welsh public services and Welsh universities," he added.

Image caption Alun Cairns said he was "optimistic" a Brexit deal could be reached

Mr Cairns said that he and Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab had updated the devolved administrations on the latest Brexit negotiations.

"We also took the opportunity to discuss the migration report, which was published recently, [and] took the different views," Mr Cairns said.

"We've committed that, in due course, we'll be publishing a white paper that will also draw further engagement, and we committed to ongoing work to all of the devolved administrations and, of course, the Welsh Government interest is my interest, and the interest of businesses and communities in Wales in order to deliver an outcome which will work for everyone."

Mr Cairns said that he remained "optimistic" that a Brexit deal could be reached between the UK Government and the European Union and he would work directly with the Welsh Government to get support for any deal.

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