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First Minister calls for a second EU referendum

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THE FIRST MINISTER of Wales, Mark Drakeford, has called for a second EU referendum in response to the imminent change in Conservative leadership.

After the results of the European Parliamentary Elections were announced, Mr Drakeford issued a statement, saying: “I warmly congratulate Jackie Jones on her election as a member of the European Parliament. Jackie, along with Matthew [Dorrance], Mary [Wimbury] and Mark [Whitcutt] served our party as candidates in what has been the most challenging of circumstances.

“Ever since the referendum in 2016, the Welsh Government has respected the result by arguing for a form of Brexit which would protect Welsh jobs and our economy. Labour colleagues in Westminster have done the same, most recently in negotiations with the UK Government.

“The election of a new Conservative leader changes all of that. It eliminates the chances of any agreed form of Brexit and it hugely increases the very real danger of a catastrophic no-deal exit from the EU. We cannot and will not stand by while that takes place.

“Faced with the damage of a hardline Tory Brexit, Welsh Labour believes that the final decision must be made by the public in a referendum. And, for the avoidance of any doubt, a Welsh Labour Government would campaign, in such a vote, for Wales to remain in the EU.

“We will work with any others who seek the same outcome.”

Last Thursday (May 24), Prime Minister Theresa May announced that she will quit as leader of the Conservatives on June 7, with it thought that a new leader could be in place by the end of July.

Many believe the party will elect a right wing leader who would be willing to propose a no deal Brexit, although there has been a majority against that option when Parliament voted on it before. Brexit policy was also key to the European Parliamentary Elections, where the Labour Party failed to attract votes, with its lead candidate Jackie Jones narrowly taking the final MEP seat in Wales.

The party claimed just 15.3% of the vote in Wales and 14.1% UK wide, with many pointing at the party’s indecision regarding its stance over Brexit as the reason for the loss of voters.

Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has been criticised by many in his party over his reluctance to openly support another referendum, as he attempted to appease both remain and leave voters with his Brexit policy. Mr Drakeford had been similarly reluctant to definitively back another referendum, but with this statement has gained the support of many in the party who wish for a second vote.

The European election results were also poor for the Conservatives, getting just 6.5% of the vote in Wales, and 9.09% across the UK. Governments often perform poorly in European elections, as the public express their disappointment with the ruling party, but this was the Conservatives’ worst ever result in a nationwide election by some way.

The party did not manage to come first in a single council area. The Brexit Party gained 32.5% of the vote in Wales, with Nathan Gill and James Wells claiming two of the country’s four MEP seats for Nigel Farage’s party. Plaid Cymru won 19.6% of the vote, with Jill Evans retaining her seat as Plaid beat Labour for the first time in a Wales-wide vote.

Andrew RT Davies, AM for South Wales Central and former leader of the Welsh Conservative Party, said: “The European Elections proved extremely difficult for the two major parties, but a second referendum is certainly not the answer. Labour promised to respect the Brexit vote, but rerunning the referendum would completely tear up this pledge.

“Regrettably, the First Minister has buckled at the first sign of discontent from his Labour colleagues who have been in denial ever since the people of Wales voted to leave the European Union back in 2016. That’s not leadership.

“People in Wales voted to leave and that should be respected and now delivered – anything else will have severe consequences for democracy as we know it in this country.”

In the 2016 referendum, Wales saw a turnout of 71.7% of its eligible voters, with 52.53% voting to leave and 47.47% voting to remain.

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Farming

Avian Influenza identified in poultry on Anglesey

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THE CHIEF Veterinary Officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop has confirmed the presence of avian influenza H5N1 in a small backyard flock of chickens and ducks at a premises on the Isle of Anglesey.

A 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zone Area have been imposed around the small infected premises, to limit the risk of disease spread.

The risk to public health from the virus is considered to be very low and these cases do not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

A case of avian influenza was confirmed in poultry and wild birds in Wrexham County borough last month. There have been similar findings of avian influenza in the UK and Europe.

On Wednesday this week the Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland agreed to bring in new housing measures to protect poultry and captive birds from avian influenza. These measures come into force on Monday, 29 November.

All keepers are strongly advised to be vigilant for signs of the disease such as increased mortality or respiratory distress. If keepers have any concerns about the health of their birds, they are encouraged to seek prompt advice from their veterinary surgeon.

The Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop, said:

“This confirmation of a case of avian influenza in poultry on the Isle of Anglesey is further evidence of the need for all keepers of birds to ensure they have the very highest levels of biosecurity in place.

“We have announced new housing measures will come into force from next Monday to protect poultry and kept birds, but I must stress that this is at its most effective when combined with implementation of the most stringent biosecurity measures.

“Public Health Wales has said the risk to the health of the public from Avian Influenza is very low and the Food Standards Agency has made clear it does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

“Temporary control zones have been imposed to help prevent further spread of the disease.

“Suspicion of avian influenza or any other notifiable disease must be reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency immediately.”

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Business

Commitment to collaborative approach for Celtic Sea floating wind project

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A SUCCESSFUL Celtic Sea APPG Reception, attended by over 100 key representatives of Industry and MPs, was hosted by Cherilyn Mackrory and the Celtic Sea Developers Alliance at the House of Commons on Monday.
The event, which included speakers from The Crown Estate, Ireland’s Ambassador to the UK and the Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart promoted floating wind (FLOW), which will become a key global technology in achieving a cost-effective Net Zero.
Cherilyn Mackrory MP for Truro and Falmouth and Celtic Sea APPG Member said:
“It was fantastic to be able to bring together developers, supply chain partners and Parliamentarians to hear more about the exciting opportunities for floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea and positive announcements have set the scene for our discussions.
Particularly, the Government’s commitment to floating offshore wind as part of the Net Zero Strategy, building on the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan to deliver 1GW of energy through floating offshore wind by 2030.”
Simon Hart MP, Secretary of State for Wales said: “The development of floating off shore wind projects in our waters could create thousands of sustainable jobs in Wales, boosting our economy and accelerating the UK’s shift to clean growth. I’m delighted to support projects in the Celtic Sea which will help the UK Government reach our aim of net-zero emissions by 2050 and to see Wales at the forefront of this exciting opportunity. “
In the UK, the Committee on Climate Change stated that offshore wind will become the backbone of the future energy system requiring 100GW of installed capacity by 2050, with floating wind set to deliver 50% of that target. Delivering 100GW of offshore wind will provide a huge economic opportunity across the UK.
The Celtic Sea will play a key role in delivering UK and Irish low carbon targets with an estimated 50GW of realisable wind resource, in turn, driving regional development, creating new supply chain opportunities, a just energy transition and a significant portion of the 29,000 jobs forecast by 2050.
The Celtic Sea Developers Alliance brings together FLOW developer interests from Cornwall and the Great South West, Ireland and Wales to strengthen collaboration between the three regions with the aim of realising the economic and low carbon energy opportunity presented by FLOW

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New Quay and Barmouth RNLI launch to capsized ocean rowing boat

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ON FRIDAY 26 November New Quay RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat launched on service at 8.15am following a distress call from an ocean rowing boat 18 miles north west of New Quay in gale force winds during Storm Arwen.  

The ocean rowing boat, with four persons on board, was travelling from Ireland to Aberystwyth in a training exercise to prepare for a trans-Atlantic crossing next year. Unfortunately, they had capsized and found themselves in difficulty so called for help. 

In north westerly gale force winds in excess of 30mph and gusting over 50mph (force 8 with gusts of force 9),Barmouth RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat was first to be tasked.As the casualty vessel drifted southwards,New Quay’s Mersey class lifeboat, the Frank and Lena of Stourbridge, with six volunteer crew members on board, was also requested to launch.  

First to arrive on scene was the Coastguard rescue helicopter who placed their winchman on board the vessel to assess the casualties. It was decided to airlift one person with head inquires directly to hospital. 

Daniel Potter, New Quay RNLI’s Coxswain said, “We made good speed heading north in gale force winds and rough sea conditions. We located the vessel and Barmouth lifeboat was already on scene and had established a tow. Unfortunately, the boat capsized again leaving three casualties trapped on board. We got alongside and pulled the three out of the water and provided casualty care. We then headed back to New Quay where the casualties received medical attention. 

“It was a great outcome in difficult conditions and a good example of lifeboats and the Coastguard working together in life threatening situations.”  

The lifeboat arrived back in New Quay at 11.35am and, having been washed down and refuelled, was ready for service again by 12.30pm. 

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