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Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales

First published:
24 June 2016
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

The country has taken a fundamental decision. This was a referendum I never thought we should have so soon after our elections and I am deeply disappointed with the result.

Now is the time for clear thinking about Wales’ future. As I have said many times since the election, no one party has the monopoly on good ideas, and now more than ever, we must rely on the abilities of all.

The Prime Minister has said that Wales should be fully involved in negotiations on the terms of UK withdrawal and our future relationship with Europe – and I’ll be holding the UK Government to that.

Our priority is to protect the interests of Wales. The Welsh Government has 6 key priorities arising from these changed circumstances.

Firstly, we must protect our jobs. The Welsh Government will work closely with business and do everything we can to maintain economic confidence and stability.

Second, the Welsh Government must play a full part in discussions about the timing and terms of UK withdrawal from the EU. Our participation is essential, not just for directly devolved issues, but for the whole range of issues affecting vital Welsh interests.

Thirdly, it is vital that the United Kingdom negotiates to retain access to the 500 million customers in the Single Market.

Four, we advocate continued participation, on current terms, in major EU programmes like CAP and Structural Funds up until the end of 2020. This will facilitate continuity for citizens, communities, businesses and investors while arrangements are made for the longer term.

Five, Wales is a net beneficiary from the EU to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds. There is now an overwhelming case for a major revision of the Barnett Formula taking into account needs arising from EU withdrawal. During the campaign promises were made that, in the event of Leave, Wales will not lose a penny in funding – the Welsh Government will insist on that commitment being honoured.

Sixth, and finally, withdrawal from the EU is a massive constitutional shift for the UK and it has equally far-reaching implications for the devolution settlement. The relationship between Devolved Administrations and the UK Government must now be placed onto an entirely different footing.

The Welsh Government will fight for the people of Wales in all of these vital areas. We will also strive to unify the divisions exposed by this vote, taking Wales forward together. Passions have been raised by this debate. Now is a time for calm consideration and measured dialogue about our future.

The challenges we faced yesterday, on the NHS, on the economy, in education, we still face today. And we must rise to those challenges, and deliver for the Welsh people. I believe this is what our nation now wants and needs.