Australia trade deal threatens Welsh identity, says Drakeford


Mark Drakeford (Image: Getty Images). Y Ddraig Goch (Image: Gwalia).

The First Minister Mark Drakeford has warned that the "things that make Wales 'Wales'" are "at stake" in the row over an Australian tariff-free trade deal.


Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Drakeford expressed his concerns about the impact that such a deal would have on "the future of our communities."


Drakeford said that the country's "Welsh-speaking heartlands", in particular, would be threatened by the deal.


43% of workers in the country's agricultural industry speak Welsh— which is a higher percentage than in any other sector.


Drakeford also said that he wanted to see a "level playing field" which takes into consideration the difficulties facing Welsh farmers when competing with Australian lamb and beef producers.


He said: "How can our hill farmers compete with Australian climates, how can our hill farmers compete with the space that is available for the huge farms that they have in Australia?


"How can we compete when our standards of animal welfare and environmental standards are higher than they are in Australia?"


Drakeford told Nick Robinson that he had raised these issues with Michael Gove who promised that he would communicate his concerns to UK ministers.


In the Commons yesterday, Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams accused Boris Johnson of "backing Australia's farmers" over Welsh ones.


Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price also said that a zero-tariff deal with Australia would effectively "wipe out Welsh agriculture", and urged the country to "unite in its opposition to this economic vandalism."

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