In her first extensive intervention on Brexit since the referendum, Eluned Morgan AM and former MEP has underlined the need to confront people’s fears on immigration in Wales with facts.
Following on from a BBC Wales poll which suggested that attitudes towards immigration had hardened since the Brexit vote, she will say in a key note St David’s Day Speech in the prestigious International Politics Department in Aberystwyth, that we need to take note of the British Social Attitudes Survey where she pointed to the fact that 71% of respondents in Wales thought that EU migrant workers brought more costs than benefits to the country. A position which is demonstrably at odds with the facts.
Eluned Morgan said, “Thousands of EU migrants are fundamental to the economy of Wales in particular in sectors such as hospitality and many of our social and health services. They are beyond doubt net contributors to the economy, the fact is that migrants in Wales contribute far more than they take out.”
“I have received information from the First Minister in Wales who has confirmed that less than 1.5% of EU migrants in Wales were in receipt of benefits numbering no more than 2,800 people. Fewer than the population of Llandyfri. Despite this, I believe that we need to listen to people’s concerns and introduce a controlled immigration system which would give preference to those with the skills that the country require.”
In a speech entitled “Can anything positive come out of Brexit?” Eluned Morgan concluded that while it is possible for there to be positive outcomes from Brexit, the transition period would be extremely volatile and predicted that there would be at least a decade of social and economic instability.
The Labour AM will underline how politics has triumphed over economics and will say, “If the UK Government fails to negotiate a decent deal on trade it could be economically catastrophic, in particular if no transition deal is put in place before the two year negotiation period is up.”
She suggested that Wales will suffer probably more than any of the other home nations because of our relatively high exports to the EU and because of our loss of European funding.
The Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales said, “We must try our best to turn this difficult situation into an opportunity. We should insist on a comprehensive reassessment of the internal constitution of the UK and demand an objective based regional funding formula based on need.”
She continued, “Both the UK and Welsh Governments need to come up with pro-active and interventionist economic policies. Wales should use the opportunity to break out of its long term dependence on the state and reinvent itself as a nation of wealth creators. We should use this time to prepare for the next economic revolution with the onset of automation and ensure that we equip our people with a range of adaptable skills.”
Note to editors
The figure of 71% of the Welsh public thinking that EU migrant workers brought more costs than benefits to the country set out in the British Social Attitudes survey is significantly higher than the views in other parts of the UK with the Midlands coming significantly further behind on 56% and Scotland and the North on 54%. As a percentage of the population EU migrants in Wales number 2.6% of the population or 79,100. This is 2% of the entire UK migrant population.