Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price has urged First Minister Mark Drakeford to back a People’s Vote following the passing at Westminster of amendments that ruled out No Deal and called on Theresa May to reopen EU negotiations last night.
Caroline Spelman and Jack Dromey’s House of Commons amendment ruled out leaving the European Union without a deal. The amendment did not, however, explain how no deal would be avoided on March 29th.
Another amendment by Graham Brady’s however called on the UK Government to reopen negotiations with the EU in order to find ‘alternative arrangements’ to the northern Ireland backstop.
The EU has already stated that they are unwilling to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement.
Adam Price said the combination of these amendments amount to a complete paradox since the UK Government is under instruction to pursue an impossible Brexit and also to avoid the inevitable consequence of this course of action.
“The passing of Graham Brady’s amendment in favour of reopening negotiations with the EU represents fantasy politics of the most cynical and irresponsible kind imaginable,” Adam Price said.
“The UK Government is now committed to a policy that is at odds with political reality, given that the EU has already explicitly ruled out renegotiating the Withdrawal Agreement.
“They are also committed to avoiding the only possible consequence of this course of action, which is a no deal departure from the EU, due to the passing of the Spelman and Dromey’s cross-party amendment that sought to rule out leaving the EU without a deal.
“The UK Government is being led by the nose by a frenzied group of ultra Brexiteers who are determined to chase their Brexit unicorn off a cliff with the carriage of the state in tow, leading to absolute disaster for people right across the UK.
“Given that Westminster has utterly failed to deliver a course of action that isn’t a complete paradox, Plaid Cymru now fully expects the Welsh Government to bring forward an unequivocal motion stating that the National Assembly for Wales calls for a People’s Vote to be held at the earliest possible opportunity.
“A People’s Vote is the emergency handbrake which should be used immediately in order to avoid a cliff-edge calamity – it is our best and final hope for a sensible resolution.
“If the Welsh Government brings forward such a motion it will have Plaid Cymru’s full support so that Wales sends out a powerful message that it is the electorate that must now be allowed to decide the way forward, given that Westminster has utterly failed to solve the Brexit conundrum.”
Responding to the vote at Westminster last night, Mark Drakeford had said that it was “staggering” that the Prime Minister would support calls to renegotiate the backstop.
“Two weeks ago she said this was impossible,” he said. “With no new ideas and red lines firmly still in place, the UK Govt is simply running down the clock in a vain hope that their deal will pass.
“Today has lost us more crucial time and the UK Government must take decisive action and act on the majority will of Parliament to rule out no deal.”
Theresa May was today preparing to return to Brussels in a bid to renegotiate her Brexit deal.
Most Conservatives and some Labour MPs had united behind a vote to replace the backstop with “alternative arrangements” to avoid a hard border in Ireland, voting 317 to 301 in favour.
But European Council president Donald Tusk insisted that the Withdrawal Agreement was not up for renegotiation.
In a statement, Mr Tusk’s spokesman said: “The Withdrawal Agreement is and remains the best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the European Union.
“The backstop is part of the Withdrawal Agreement, and the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for re-negotiation.”
Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney said the controversial backstop arrangement remained “necessary” despite the vote, while the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, said there was “no majority to re-open or dilute” the Withdrawal Agreement.
And French President Emmanuel Macron also said the agreement was “not renegotiable”, in comments just moments before MPs voted.