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Why is Carwyn Jones doing what Jeremy Corbyn should?

Byline: Martin Shipton on the news Twitter: @ShiptonMartin

ON Tuesday morning, refreshed from family trips to Ireland and Crete, Carwyn Jones strode to the podium in the First Minister's media briefing room and gave a business-like report on his Government's plans for the new Assembly term.

Responding to questions from journalists, he ripped into the UK Government over its failure to reach a common position on the terms of Brexit. He made the point that Wales needs to have access to the European Single Market - and that the imposition of tariffs that would follow Brexit without a free trade deal would seriously damage our economy. His position couldn't have been expressed more clearly, and is consistent with what he said during the referendum campaign and immediately after it.

The British Labour Party, meanwhile, has been virtually invisible on the issue, caught up in its own civil war.

At a time when the Conservative Party, whose previous Prime Minister called the referendum not out of high principle, but to get his own Eurosceptics off his back, should be on the rack for its own split over the nature of Brexit, it has been let off the hook by the Official Opposition.

Yesterday Mr Jones was out and about, visiting the site of the old Fram Filters plant in Llantrisant which has been taken over by Edwards Coaches, one of the biggest bus companies in Wales, It's currently a demolition site, but within a year the 91-year-old firm's fourth generation boss Mike Edwards says he will have transformed it into the expanded HQ he needs.

The site was bought by the company from the Welsh Government, and Mr Jones spoke of how, with its 500 employees, it was equivalent to a medium-sized colliery from decades ago.

For him, it's business as usual. Next week he'll be on a trade mission to three American cities where he will gauge the response from potential investors to Brexit.

Stressing again the need for access to the Single Market, he said: "We've learned that the only way to get investment for Wales is to go and look for it. That didn't happen in the Eighties and Nineties. The reason why we've got the best figures for 30 years in foreign direct investment is because we've gone out and fought for it - and we'll keep on doing it."

Asked what responsibility he felt he had in the context of the current turmoil in the Labour Party at a British level, he said: "It's very difficult to know what the outcome will be after September [24, when the leadership election result will be announced], but my hope obviously is that we have a united party that then goes on to be an effective opposition at a UK level. Here in Wales our role is to make sure that we carry on delivering for the people of Wales."

He pointed to the fact that in Wales, unemployment figures were lower than in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, that youth unemployment was much lower and that GDP figures were starting to rise.

'Carwyn points that others should at a British shouldn't Tories Although Mr Jones won't criticise the British leadership of his party, his hope that when the leadership contest is done and dusted it will go on to be an effective opposition suggests he doesn't think it is functioning that way at present. Other senior Welsh Labour sources go further in spelling things out.

"Of course Carwyn is making points that Corbyn and others should be making at a British level," said one. "We shouldn't be allowing the Tories a free run at a time when there's a lot to challenge them over. Their failure to reach an agreed position on Brexit is very worrying, but the Shadow Cabinet is letting them off the hook."

is making Corbyn and be making level. We give the a free run' " The source claimed that initiatives from the Shadow Cabinet had largely dried up: "It wasn't perfect when Ed Miliband was the leader, but at least there were plenty of policy ideas and detailed critiques of government policy being produced. Now there's very little.

"Most of Labour's best talents have left the Shadow Cabinet, and their political advisers have gone off to work elsewhere.

"The new members of the Shadow Cabinet have taken people on as advisers straight out of university who don't have any solid experience in the policy areas they're advising on.

"If Corbyn is re-elected, which seems almost certain, there is no stomach to go off and form a new party. Instead, people will leave Parliament to do something else, either pretty quickly and creating by-elections, or at the next general election. "They don't fancy being in opposition for 20 years.

"In Wales, though, things are not so bad. In May we had a much better than expected Assembly election result and we have a stable government that we are running. Carwyn is the leader in Wales, and we will carry on. It's business as usual."

be suggests the there 'Carwyn is making points that Corbyn and others should be making at a British level. We shouldn't give the Tories a free run'


Jeremy Corbyn and Carwyn Jones greet each other on a campaign visit in Maesteg
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 1, 2016
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