Wales politics

Irish 'incredulity' over Brexit vote claim criticised

Eluned Morgan
Image caption Eluned Morgan had described Irish "continued incredulity" over Wales voting for Brexit

The Brexit Party has criticised the international relations minister for saying people in Ireland cannot believe Wales voted to leave the EU.

During meetings in Dublin last month, Eluned Morgan said she encountered "continued incredulity that Wales could have voted the way it did in 2016".

Mark Drakeford was challenged about the "deeply inappropriate" remarks at First Minister's Question's in the Senedd.

He said Ms Morgan had reported what Irish government members has told her.

The Brexit Party assembly group leader Mark Reckless said: "How would people in Ireland feel if UK ministers expressed incredulity about Ireland having voted for independence?"

He added: "Should we instead be telling Ireland that if they want to avoid no-deal, they need to move on the backstop."

Wales voted for Brexit 52.5% to 47.5% in 2016.

Mr Drakeford said Ms Morgan had reported what she was told by senior members of the Irish government.

"The things that the minister reported are the things that we know are said day-in day-out about the attitude that the UK government has taken to the whole Brexit negotiations, about its failure to recognise the significance of the border on the island of Ireland," he said.

Image caption Mark Reckless raised the issue during Tuesday's First Minister's Questions

Mr Drakeford met Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar in Manchester last week.

He said concerns about the future of the Irish border after Brexit were "really serious matters that affect the peace of communities".

"Simply to dismiss them and tell another government how they should approach this matter really doesn't measure up to the seriousness of those matters at all," he said.

He went on to accuse the UK government's Foreign Office of being "crass in the extreme" by initially refusing to allow him to use one of its cars in Brussels.

Before a change of heart, the Foreign Office had said diplomatic support for the first minister would be conditional on him not undermining UK government policy during a visit to meet EU leaders.

"I never go abroad to criticise the UK government," Mr Drakeford told AMs.

"I go to make the points that are made in this chamber and that I make on behalf of Wales."

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