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Plaid plot Wales’ way post-Brexit

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PLAID CYMRU Leader Adam Price has said that it is time for Wales to focus on “new opportunities” in a “new landscape” as he shifts his party’s position on Brexit ahead of the UK leaving the EU on Friday.

The Plaid Cymru Leader made his remarks delivering a keynote speech on Beyond Brexit: Charting a new course at the Pierhead building on Monday, January 27.

Speaking ahead of the speech, Adam Price said that whilst “we weren’t all leavers” the UK and Wales would now be leaving the EU and that there was “little point” in fighting “yesterday’s battles”. He said that it would be the “red dragon of Wales” taking back control and that Plaid Cymru would set Wales on a new course in a post-Brexit Wales.

Adding that “simply defending the status quo” was no longer enough, the Plaid Cymru leader said it was “time to focus on the new opportunities in the new landscape” and that a “positive post-Brexit plan for Wales” with more powers for the Senedd would be needed to “tackle and solve Wales’ economic problems”.

Mr Price said that Wales could have powers to vary corporation tax or VAT after it leaves the EU. Under EU rules, countries must apply a minimum standard VAT rate of 15%. He added that powers over public procurement rules could be devolved to Wales alongside a government “Made in Wales” and “Buy Welsh” programme.

The Plaid Cymru Leader pledged that his party’s offer on health, education and the economy “is the same” to those who voted leave or remain, “wherever in Wales” they lived adding that leaving the EU would not mean “leaving the hope of a new Wales behind”.

Wales, and the rest of the UK, will be leaving the EU on January 31.

Speaking ahead of his keynote speech, Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price AM said: “We weren’t all leavers but we are all leaving now and there is little point in continuing to rehearse these arguments or fighting yesterday’s battles. That, to me, is emblematic of future-facing Wales. It is the Red Dragon of Wales that will be taking back control, and if Plaid Cymru has anything to do with it, eventually setting us on a new course.

“Simply defending the status quo is no longer enough. It’s time to focus on new opportunities in the new landscape. Northern Ireland has a special status. The north of England will see a lot of investment. Scotland will be a continued focus because of the movement for independence. We need a positive post-Brexit plan for Wales and a stronger Senedd with more powers to tackle and solve Wales’ economic problems.

“We could have new flexibility over tax – such as powers to vary corporation tax or VAT for key sectors like construction and tourism. We could also secure power over public procurement rules to allow to support our foundational economy programme based on a local import substitution alongside a government-backed Made in Wales and Buy Welsh programme.”
Adam Price said it was time to turn the “power grab” into a “power gain” and take advantage of some of the “flexibilities” afforded to Wales outside the European Union including:

· The ability of the Wales Development Bank to allow to lend without the constraints of state aid rules
· Devolve power over corporation tax, capital gains tax on property, the apprenticeship levy and the air passenger duty.
· Develop new procurement rules to support our foundational economy.
· Create Welsh freeports at key ports and airports.
· Welsh work permits as part of a Welsh migration system.

Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price added: “Instead of focusing on the losses from the Single Market, we have now to start to focus on the new opportunities in the new landscape. We must ditch the old sense of resignation: when England catches cold, Wales catches pneumonia. It’s time instead to dose up on some economic Vitamin C – inject the Welsh Vavavoom into our new way of thinking.

“Leaving the European Union does not mean leaving the hope of a new Wales behind and for those of us who want to channel our positive energy we can turn the next fifteen months into Wales’s transition period.”

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News

Town Council re-directs funds to food bank

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Ammanford Town Council has taken a decision to donate £1500 to their local food bank. The decision was taken to re-allocate funding from their events budget in light of the current Covid-19 crisis. This re-allocation will support the local food bank in maintaining their operations as they provide support to some of the most highly affected members of the community during these unprecedented times. Starting with a donation of £500, the council has made further subsequent donations, now totalling £1500.

Town Council Mayor, Julia Bell said:

I’m extremely proud of our decision as a town council, and of our fantastic volunteers. This is one of several projects the town council is running to support the community. We thank everyone for doing their absolute best in some very difficult circumstances.

Mr Jonathan Edwards, MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr said:

“This decision by the Ammanford Town Council is highly commendable. The Covid-19 crisis is multiplying the financial pressures that face the more vulnerable in society, and the foodbank will play an essential role in the coming weeks and months”

For further information contact Jonathan Edwards MP on edwardsjab2@parliament.uk 07534984376

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Opinion: The Big Question Facing Kier Starmer – Jonathan Edwards

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In the midst of the Coronavirus crisis the election victory of Sir Kier Starmer as Labour Leader didn’t achieve the column inches one would normally expect.  As is customary, I would like to wish Kier well in his role.  I can not claim to know him as a person having only conversed on a few occasions, however I have respect for his debating ability, his considered tone and his eye for detail.  I consider him a serious politician.

The challenges he faces are enormous of course.   Labour have now lost four Westminster elections on the bounce.  His decision making must quickly shift from efforts to unify his party to the far more important task of presenting a credible challenge to the Conservative party at the next Westminster election.

Labour has a defining choice to make, and this decision will have far reaching consequences for all political parties operating in the British State.  On the one hand, Labour could revert to its usual tribal inward-looking tendencies.  However, essentially this would mean writing off the next election as a part of a wider rebuilding strategy aimed at the 2029 election.  A stark admission as it would mean Labour having been out of power at Westminster level for twenty years at best.

Alternatively, Kier Starmer could acknowledge that Labour on their own will not be able to challenge the Tories for power at the next Westminster election.  This path would then require Starmer reaching out to all the other opposition parties in Westminster apart from the DUP.  I am talking about more than just coordination of parliamentary activity in Westminster.  In a first past the post electoral system we are talking about the need for non-aggression pacts, and a joint programme of government.  I would go as far as to suggest that the government itself would need to be a unity administration delivering on the agreed programme.

Parliamentary boundary changes makes the task even more pressing.  Whatever one thinks of his opportunistic politics, Boris Johnson has succeeded in unifying the right of the political spectrum.   However, the centre and left have a host of parties vying for support.  In a political system based for two horse races, the end result is brutal as we saw in December.

What sort of programme could Plaid Cymru, SNP, Green, Liberals, SDLP, Alliance and Labour unite around?  There would be little difficulty in agreeing a progressive economic and social policy platform.  A proportional voting system would be a must to enable all parties to compete equally in subsequent elections.  The big challenge for me seems to be the constitutional question when it comes to Scotland and Wales.   For Plaid Cymru and the SNP there would need to be a commitment for a fully Confederal system leaving only foreign affairs, defence, and macro-economic policy reserved – the sort of settlement promised by Cameron and Brown on the eve of the Scottish independence poll.  This should be supported with House of Lords reform into an elected Senate of the Nations of the British State.   Both Wales and Scotland would also require the statutory right to hold independence referenda at time of their own choosing.  This should be uncontroversial as it is the policy of the Labour Welsh Government.

This is the very simple choice facing the new leader of the Labour party.  Does he want to be Prime Minister, or effectively a plumber performing a re-patching job on a tired and insular party.

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Community

Council to consider new regional relationship for school improvement

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s Executive Board will meet next week to discuss the authority’s future as part of the regional school improvement consortium ERW (Educational Regional Workforce).

The council, along with authorities in Ceredigion, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Powys and Swansea, has been a part of the consortium since it was established in 2014.

However, the Executive Board could decide to withdraw from the consortium to support a new arrangement for school improvement services based on the footprint of the Swansea Bay Region.

Neath Port Talbot Council has already served notice to withdraw.

Cllr Emlyn Dole, Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, has recognised the many positive achievements of the consortium in recent years, but said it was right to discuss what was best for Carmarthenshire going forward.

“ERW has achieved many positive things, however it is fair to say that it has also navigated through some difficult times with changes in political and managerial leadership,” he said. “The large geographical area of the ERW footprint has added to these challenges.

“We truly value working with our neighbours, but it is timely to review the regional arrangements and potentially look to realign with other partnerships across the Swansea Bay City Region which could have bigger benefits for Carmarthenshire’s children and young people.”

The Executive Board will meet on March 16 (2020) to review the authority’s position, but has promised to work with partners to ensure a seamless and robust transition should members decide to withdraw.

Cllr Glynog Davies, the council’s Executive Board Member for education and children’s services, added: “We are committed to working in partnership and across local authority boundaries where this delivers benefits for our communities.

“It’s right to acknowledge the significant progress of ERW over the last 12 months, in terms of staffing and organisation, but we must be confident that we are providing the very best support for our schools and it’s timely to look at how this can best be achieved.”

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