24 October 2019 18:31
Image caption Michael Gove took questions from an assembly committee via video link No economic impact assessment has been done on how Boris Johnson's new Brexit deal could affect Holyhead, a senior UK cabinet minister has told AMs. Brexit planning minister Michael Gove said it was difficult to have one when "there are so many variables in play". Plaid Cymru's Delyth Jewell asked how AMs could be expected to back the deal without knowing the impact on the port. Mr Gove said "Holyhead will be in a stronger position than ever" if the deal is passed by MPs. Ms Jewell called it "astonishing" that no impact assessments had been carried out for Holyhead, the UK's second busiest port. The deal agreed between UK and EU negotiators involves new administration and checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea, to avoid such bureaucracy between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Giving evidence to the Welsh Assembly's External Affairs Committee on Thursday, Mr Gove said: "It's difficult I think to have an economic impact assessment because there are so many variables in play.
"It's important of course for all of us to look at the variety of different factors but no impact assessment can ever give us the unvarnished truth because by definition it is impossible to predict with certainty how something as multi-faceted as the UK economy will grow and develop in the future." Image caption Michael Gove visited Holyhead in August Mr Gove said he had visited Holyhead and looked at the impact leaving the EU with a deal could have on the port compared to leaving without a deal. He said his government had "absolutely done everything possible to mitigate any adverse effects". Mr Gove added: "If we have a no deal that will create challenges for Holyhead and that's why we believe this deal is in the best interests of the UK economy overall and all those who work in and around Holyhead as well." The UK government has asked assembly members to give their consent to the legislation that will underpin the Brexit deal in UK law. While not legally binding on Westminster, it is convention that laws passed by Parliament which have an impact on devolution are also agreed by the Senedd. On Tuesday, Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford said the prime minister had agreed a "bad deal for Wales", arguing the assembly should refuse formal consent for Mr Johnson's bill.
UK Government Cabinet member Michael Gove has been accused of a "dangerous con trick" after admitting that no impact assessment has been carried out on the Brexit deal's effect on Holyhead port, the UK's second largest. The most recent version of the Brexit deal would effectively create a hard border in the Irish Sea, potentially causing disruption at what is the UK's second busiest port. Michael Gove was questioned by Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Delyth Jewell while giving evidence to the Senedd's External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee this afternoon. Delyth Jewell had asked how AMs could be expected to back the deal without knowing the impact on the port, which has over 400,000 lorries passing through it every year. "It's difficult to have an impact assessment because there are so many variables in play and I always remember the words of the economist JK Galbraith who said that economic forecasting was invented in order to give astrology a good name," Michael Gove said. "It's important of course for all of us to look at the variety of different factors but no impact assessment can ever give us the unvarnished truth because by definition it is impossible to predict with certainty how something as multi-faceted as the UK economy will grow and develop in the future." Mr Gove then suggested that Holyhead would prosper under the deal, saying that if the deal were passed, Holyhead would be in a "stronger position than ever". 'Bumbling' Plaid Cymru's parliamentary candidate for Ynys Môn Aled ap Dafydd said his words amounted to a "dangerous con trick". "Michael Gove has confirmed what we have long suspected," he said. "The UK Government has made no assessment of the impact of this deal on the UK's second busiest port. "Over 600 workers at Holyhead and in communities surrounding the town want to know what the effect of a border in the Irish Sea would have on their livelihoods. "It is a dangerous con trick for this Conservative government to argue that Holyhead would be 'better off' without backing it up with evidence. "The people of Ynys Môn will not be fooled by a bumbling minister who is full of empty rhetoric."