Calls for Wales to have same access to EU’s single market as Northern Ireland
Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts said Rishi Sunak’s advocacy for the benefits of Northern Ireland retaining privileged access to the EU’s single market is an “excellent argument” for Wales to have similar access.
She told the Commons: “The Prime Minister said yesterday Northern Ireland is in the unbelievably special position in having privileged access not just to the UK market, but hey, also to the EU single market.
“This is an excellent argument for Plaid Cymru’s policy to rejoin the single market. Why isn’t it good enough for Wales?”
Wales Office minister James Davies said: “Wales voted to leave the EU quite decisively.
“She knows that the situation in Northern Ireland is really quite different to that in Wales, and there has been a carefully put together deal to accommodate that situation, and I feel quite sure that the EU is not in the business of allowing what she suggests.”
Speaking after the session, Liz Saville Roberts added: “Rishi Sunak was bouncing with enthusiasm about Northern Ireland’s privileged access to the EU single market – the same man who campaigned to deprive the rest of us of that very same access.
“When Brexit’s biggest cheerleaders are now singing the praises of the single market, it’s clear that the Brexit project has failed. It’s time for the Prime Minister to join the dots and begin the process of taking Wales, and the UK as a whole, back into the single market. Wales refuses to be short-changed any longer.”
Downing Street was forced to stress yesterday that Rishi Sunak’s hailing of Northern Ireland’s access to both EU and British markets should not be seen as an endorsement of single market benefits for the whole of the UK.
During a visit to a Coca-Cola factory in County Antrim to promote his Windsor Framework, the Prime Minister said the deal would create “the world’s most exciting economic zone”.
“If we get this right, if we get this framework implemented, if we get the Executive back up and running here, Northern Ireland is in the unbelievably special position – unique position in the entire world, European continent – in having privileged access, not just to the UK home market, which is enormous, but also the European Union single market.
“Nobody else has that. No-one. Only you guys: only here, and that is the prize.”
Critics online were swift to point out that the entire UK had full access to the EU’s single market before Brexit.
In response, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “The British people made a decision in 2016 and we are seeing the benefits of that decision, whether that’s in the ability to change our environment laws, some of the tax elements the Prime Minister talked about just today, in fact.
“With regards to Northern Ireland, it is simply a fact that because of our respect for the Good Friday Agreement and the central importance: Northern Ireland’s unique position means it needs to have access to both markets, not least to avoid a border on the island of Ireland, which nobody wants to see.
“That puts it in a unique position and what the framework does is finally cement those capabilities.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.