MINISTERS spoke about ‘standing up for Wales’ on the eve of the country leaving the EU.

First Minster Mark Drakeford said the shape of the UK’s future relationship with the EU will be crucial for North Wales on a site visit to Airbus in Broughton yesterday.

Mr Drakeford reaffirmed the Welsh Government’s longstanding commitment to its partnership with the aerospace giant that employs more than 6,000 people.

He said: “I welcome Airbus’ commitment to working with the Welsh Government to secure the future of its British wing plants and to identify opportunities for expansion in the future.

“When the UK officially leaves the EU, our future economic relationship with the EU will not be settled. We are only at the beginning of the next phase of negotiations.”

The minister said the shape of the UK’s future relationship with the EU will be crucial for businesses across North Wales and that forthcoming negotiations with between governments will be ‘vitally important’.

He added: “I repeat my calls that Wales, together with other devolved administrations, must be fully involved in this process. Only we can stand up for Wales and we want the best possible access for all businesses in Wales to the EU so they can trade freely with no barriers or extra costs.”

Joining the Welsh Labour leader was Ken Skates, minister for economy and North Wales.

He said: “Airbus is a magnet company in North Wales. It’s impact and influence extends far beyond the site in Broughton.

“We will continue to support Airbus and the aerospace industry, which is such a key part of the Welsh economy.

“I am pleased to see that Airbus will continue to be in a strong position and I look forward to our continued co-operation on exciting developments for North Wales.”

Airbus officials have stood by previous statements regarding the impact of Brexit on their business and have invested tens of millions of pounds preparing for Brexit.

An Airbus spokesman said: “The UK government now has a clear mandate and we look forward to positive discussions. Airbus remains concerned by the potential for a ‘no-deal’ in December 2020 and we will continue to plan for that scenario as that is the only way any responsible business can plan.

“We will continue to run our major Brexit project in order to further eradicate/mitigate risks. We continue to look for further clarity, and the removal of uncertainty, particularly around regulatory alignment, so that Airbus can properly plan for the future.

They added: “The shape of the future EU/UK relationship remains of critical importance for Airbus and its employees.”