Wales will not be intimidated out of fighting for its interests in future negotiations with the European Union after Brexit, Mark Drakeford has said.
The Welsh First Minister also said the UK Government would have a “fight on its hands” if it decided to retain powers returning from the EU which fell into devolved areas of law.
Mr Drakeford was speaking at the Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay, where he said Wales would “remain a proudly European nation” but warned it and the rest of the UK would experience “stresses and strains” in the coming years.
He said: “Brexit may have happened but we are yet to step out into that brave new world.
We will not be browbeaten by the assertion that the decision to leave the EU is a decision that brings an end to debate or to discussionMark Drakeford, Welsh First Minister
“And while Brexit may be done in that narrow sense, the impact of Brexit, the form of Brexit is with us for years to come.
“Here in Wales and in the Welsh Government, we will not be hoodwinked by any simplistic assertion that Brexit is now over and done.
“We will not be browbeaten by the assertion that the decision to leave the EU is a decision that brings an end to debate or to discussion.
“And we will not simply be bored into submission by the reality that Brexit is with us not just for today but for years and years to come.”
During a question and answer session, Mr Drakeford said Wales and the other devolved nations should be given a “guaranteed place” in the forming of the UK’s negotiating mandate, and be part of negotiations which depended on devolved matters.
He added: “If the UK Government thinks the way to sustain the UK after the EU is to act unilaterally, to ride roughshod over the responsibilities that have been devolved to Wales – devolved because of two referendums – then I say here, as I’ve said directly to them, they have a fight on their hands.”
Mr Drakeford also warned those who complained about being “rule takers” in the EU would instead now have to be rule takers to the US in order to trade with it in the future.
Together, we will unleash the enormous potential of communities across WalesSecretary of State for Wales Simon Hart
Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said in a statement on Friday that Brexit would “unleash the enormous potential” of the country.
The Conservative MP said: “Today marks a new chapter in our history as we finally deliver on the decision made by the Welsh people and leave the EU.
“We are leaving as one United Kingdom with a mission to build better infrastructure, make our streets safer, clean up our environment and make our Union stronger.
“Together, we will unleash the enormous potential of communities across Wales.”