A WELSH Government Minister has called for a delay on this month’s Brexit date in order to avoid ‘dire’ consequences.

Ken Skates, Assembly Member for Clwyd South, has said the Prime Minister should remove March 29 as the exit date and take a no-deal option off the table.

He said: “It would be catastrophic for North Wales. One item of concern is economy and how we can invest maximum sums in road infrastructure, business premiums and in terms of business support.

“It would be dire; the consequences are dreadful. This isn’t part of project fear, this is part of our responsible approach to Brexit.

“Economy would shrink, and we would certainly miss out on foreign direct investment and it would become very difficult for many businesses across the other spectrum sectors to up competition.”

The recently announced Minister for North Wales has said Welsh Government is doing all it can to help businesses across the country prepare for Brexit, but businesses need to also help themselves.

Welsh Government has launched the EU Transition Fund, as well as the Business Wales Portal, which includes a digital diagnosis in helping prepare for all eventualities of Brexit.

Mr Skates added: “We have been contributing to the Cross-Government preparedness scheme for many months.

“I would urge all businesses to visit and utilise the tool kit and use our support in preparing for Brexit. We can only help and support those businesses who work with us.

“Now is a time for collaboration, not co-existence.”

Recent employment figures have shown that Wales, on average, is higher than across the UK, with figures showing employment rate in Wales in 76.2 per cent compared to 75.8 in the UK.

Economic inactivity also shows Wales to be at 20.3 per cent compared to a UK average of 20.9 per cent, however, Mr Skates said despite being in a strong position, Brexit is close and threatens that position.

He said: “Over many years everyone has been working to the same purpose and grow resilience and a stronger economy but tragically Brexit puts our efforts and investments at risk.”

In a recent press conference, the AM spoke about a company who has paused a major investment, which would have created hundreds of jobs, in the events of Brexit.

He also told members that Honda’s decision will impact the automotive sector across Wales and would be ‘catastrophic’ for the country.

He said: “We are doing all we can to invest in them to ensure they are future-proof.

“Jobs are on the line and being lost at the Prime Minister’s inability to secure a deal that works for people and businesses.

“We have developed an online portal with diagnostic toolkit for preparing businesses.

“If they don’t prepare now, they will have to take responsibility for any subsequent failure. We are able to help businesses in many respects, but we can only help them if they come to us for advice.”

Mr Skates told the Leader he hopes the UK Government will increase its investment in the North Wales Growth Deal and if it does, Welsh Government will match it.

He said talks are ongoing between Welsh and UK Government and is hoping the chancellor will agree, but it will most likely be after Brexit - which he describes as ‘timely’ and will offer a ‘post-Brexit support package’.

He added: “In terms of infrastructure it could result in improvements to the mainline rail services. North Wales urgently needs enhancement, unfortunately it has been poorly funded for too many years.

“I want to make sure North Wales becomes a far better-connected region and that we maximise all opportunities for additional jobs and growing our own business.

“Whether real or perceived many people in North Wales feel there’s a divide between the region and South Wales in terms of where their interests are prioritised, and our investments made in the North.”