PM must put UK before party on Brexit, says Carwyn Jones

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Media captionCarwyn Jones: “It’s time we had a plan”

Theresa May should “come clean” on Brexit and put the national interest ahead of her party, Wales’ first minister has said.

Carwyn Jones is urging the prime minister to “erase the wobbly red lines” and negotiate positively with the European Union.

His comments came in a speech in London to mark two years since the referendum.

UK ministers have faced two days of Commons votes on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, overturning Lords amendments.

The first minister called on Mrs May to use her government’s forthcoming Brexit White Paper to “come clean on Brexit, to erase the wobbly red lines and to get the country into a proper Brexit-ready position”.

Warning of the “very real possibility of a catastrophic no-deal Brexit”, Mr Jones said UK ministers should “argue for a dynamic and positive relationship with the [European] Single Market”.

The first minister – who plans to step down this year – said Mrs May needed to “stand up to the hard Brexiteers … and stand up for a sensible Brexit”.

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Media captionAlun Cairns: “A strong record in delivering in the interests of the whole UK”

Last week, Mr Jones was critical of “intense public argument between members of the government” following reports that Brexit Secretary David Davis had threatened to resign.

However, Labour has its own divisions, with dozens of MPs defying leader Jeremy Corbyn to abstain on a measure to keep the UK in the Single Market through membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) – the so-called Norway model.

In his speech on Thursday, Mr Jones said the Norway model was “not perfect” but allowed for a degree of freedom of movement that “most people could accept”.

He said it was “probably right” that most Labour members supported freedom of movement, and claimed there were no big differences between Labour policy in Cardiff and London on Brexit.

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Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns, on a visit to Cardigan, defended Mrs May’s approach to negotiations, and the agreements she had struck in meetings with other EU government leaders.

“There’s been very often doom and gloom beforehand but each one has been declared a strong success,” he said.

“The prime minister has a strong record in delivering in the interests of the whole UK and in being pragmatic, because it’s about getting the right deal for every part of the UK as well as the right deal for Europe.”

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