Plaid Leader says return to single market ‘simple solution’ to cost of living crisis
Returning Wales and the rest of the UK to the single market would be a “simple solution” to help thousands of families already struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, Leader of Plaid Cymru Adam Price has said.
Speaking during today’s session of FMQs, Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price called on First Minister Mark Drakeford to commit his government to the policy of single market membership – as previously adopted in the joint Plaid Cymru and Welsh Government white paper, Securing Wales’ Future.
He also called on the First Minister to make the case to both Boris Johnson and leader of the opposition Keir Starmer – pointing out that the latter’s position was “vague”.
Mr Price said the Tories were risking a “trade war” over the Northern Ireland protocol and stated that re-joining the single market would be a “very simple practical solution” to the economic challenges facing families throughout the United Kingdom.
GDP has fallen in the UK for the second month running with an initial drop of 0.1 per cent in March, and an unexpected slump of 0.3 per cent in April.
The Centre for European Reform last week said that Britain was £31 billion worse off than it would have been without the dual impact of Brexit and Covid, but that the bigger impact was the effect from Brexit.
Mr Drakeford declined to commit but agreed that he continued to believe that if “Wales and the United Kingdom were inside the single market, all those barriers to trade that we see doing such harm to the Welsh manufacturing industry and to Welsh agriculture will be removed”.
Soaring energy and food costs
Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price MS said: “Households and families across Wales and the UK are continuing to struggle with soaring energy and food costs. Barriers to trade and skills shortages are only set to make the cost-of-living crisis worse.
“If that wasn’t bad enough, the Tories in Westminster is now risking a trade war over the Northern Ireland protocol, which will not just plunge Northern Ireland into political uncertainty but also add further to the economic pain families are already experiencing throughout the United Kingdom.
“The cost-of-living crisis and the challenges we’re facing in every sector of the economy and in every part of the UK bar London arguably has a very simple practical solution which is returning to the principle at the heart of ‘Securing Wales’s Future’, the White Paper Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Government jointly published, which is re-joining now the single market and the customs union.
Earlier this month a Tory former minister sparked uproar within his party for suggesting the UK should rejoin the single market to ease the cost-of-living crisis.
Tobias Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East, who campaigned to Remain in the EU in 2016, argued there is an “appetite” to make “course corrections” to the current model, claiming recent polling suggests “this is not the Brexit most people imagined”.
The chairman of the Commons Defence Committee said “more radical thinking is required if we are to energise our economy through these stormy waters”.
He said Brexit in its current form had sparked a number of challenges, including shrinking exports to Europe and issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol, and that these and other problems would “disappear” if the UK chose to rejoin the single market.
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