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Rejoin the Single Market ASAP, says Plaid Cymru on seventh anniversary of Brexit vote

23 Jun 2023 5 minute read
Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth.

Martin Shipton

Wales and the rest of the UK should rejoin the Single Market to undo the economic damage caused by Brexit, Plaid Cymru has said.

Speaking on the seventh anniversary of the Brexit referendum (June 23), the party’s new leader Rhun ap Iorwerth outlined “immediate practical steps” Wales and the rest of the UK could take to pave the way for a closer relationship with the EU including:

* Preparing to rejoin the Single Market. The UK Government should align food safety and veterinary standards with the EU to reduce barriers and ensure a smooth flow of agricultural and food products. A new Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and veterinary equivalence agreement with the EU would ease costs for businesses, and would lay the groundwork for rejoining the single market.

* Rejoining the Erasmus scheme. The UK should rejoin Erasmus and negotiate reciprocal youth mobility visa schemes to enable young people to travel, work, and gain experience in both the UK and EU countries. This would increase cultural exchange, enhance opportunities, and give young people in Wales more opportunities.

* Devolving visa schemes to Wales. We should grant the devolved governments the ability to manage our own visa schemes, including the creation of a shortage occupation list. This would address specific worker shortages in Wales and attract skilled workers from the EU, contributing to economic growth and addressing skills gaps.

* Reducing barriers at Welsh ports. The UK could immediately improve border and customs processes at ports like Holyhead and Fishguard, by implementing a single window system for trade data entry and digitising import and export processes. These measures streamline trade, reduce administrative burdens, and enhance the efficiency of cross-border movements.

* Devolving funding schemes. Restore devolved powers over development funding to empower the Welsh Government to invest in Wales’ priorities. Immediate action should be taken by the UK Government to reinstate the principle of allocating funding based on relative need. This approach would not only restore respect in devolution but would also alleviate the burdens faced by local authorities, which currently bear the immense pressure of coordinating funding bids.

Empty promises

Mr ap Iorwerth said that the people of Wales had been let down by both the Tories’ “false and empty promises” and Labour’s inability to provide “answers” on how they would put things right. He said Plaid’s five-point plan would “directly address” key failures of Brexit including tackling worker shortages, reducing barriers on trade, and restoring powers to the Senedd on development funding.

Mr ap Iorwerth said Plaid remained “committed” to its belief that we would be best served as members of the EU, but as a matter of urgency the UK needed to become members of the Single Market and Customs Union to undo the “economic damage” caused by a “botched Brexit” and to put more money in people’s pockets during this cost-of-living crisis.

The Plaid leader said: “Seven years on and the economic reality of Brexit has been laid bare for all to see. Inflation is higher in the UK than in other European countries. Import costs are higher. There’s a shortage of workers in key sectors like the NHS, hospitality, and tourism. Factories like 2Sisters in my constituency of Ynys Mon have been forced to close – resulting in the loss of over 700 jobs.

“Brexit is projected to reduce the value of Welsh exports by approximately £1.1bn. The people of Wales have been let down by the Tories’ false and empty promises. The Tories are responsible for the dire state our economy is now in.

“Meanwhile, Starmer’s Labour face both ways – shying away from the true impact Brexit is having on the economy and unable – or unwilling to provide any answers on how they would put things right.

“Plaid Cymru’s five-point plan would directly address the failures of Brexit including tackling worker shortages and skills gaps, reducing barriers and red tape on food products, and restoring powers over post-Brexit funding to the Senedd

“Plaid Cymru remains committed to wanting the closest ties as possible with Europe and believe EU membership was – and remains – in Wales’ best interest. But at the very least we must become members of the Single Market and Customs Union with urgency to not only undo the economic damage caused by Westminster’s botched Brexit but to put more money in the pockets of the people of Wales at a time where they need it the most.”

Poll

A recent poll revealed that seven years on from the UK’s decision to leave the EU, more voters than ever believe Brexit has been a “failure”. The YouGov poll found more than a third of those who backed Leave in the referendum say Brexit has been more of a failure than a success.

Meanwhile just a fifth of Leave supporters said Brexit had been “more of a success”

Meanwhile a new study by the LSE found that UK households have paid £7bn to cover additional costs arising from post-Brexit trade barriers.

It also found that the price of food has risen by 25% since 2019, with Brexit being responsible for inflating that figure by 8 percentage points.


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Keri
Keri
9 months ago

Labour needs to adopt these policies immediately. The country needs to face the fact Brexit was always going to be a disaster. The Tories had their own agenda and it had nothing to do with the good of the country. There isn’t one single benefit to Brexit. Not one. The country is in the race to the bottom, while the deluded instigators of Brexit are sailing off into the sunset with knighthoods. It needs to be fixed.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago

Plaid talking sense…

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
9 months ago

Plaid Cymru’s Rhun ap Iorwerth is right. Brexit has not only been an unmitigated disaster for the Welsh economy, but leaving the EU has been used by the English Tory party to cynically steal Senedd powers , bypass and undermine democracy itself.

We must not only rejoin the single market, but also draft legislation to strengthen our Senedd Cymru with a written constitution protecting not only our rights as Welsh people but devolution itself from future Whitehall attacks & interference.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
9 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Whilst I agree with your sentiments, attempts to codify and protect devolution would come to nothing as the power to do that lies with Westminster and not with Cardiff Bay. Far better to aim for independence from the UK and negotiate entry to the EU on our own merits. The EU is lots of things, and many on the Lexit spectrum during the referendum ‘debate’ were very fond of reminding us that the EU was nothing more than a capitalist cartel, with some grounds of course, (there is, after all, only one economic system in operation) completely ignoring the fact… Read more »

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
9 months ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Independence is the only realistic course for Wales. The only way we could find it acceptable in the UK is for the current regime to be completely replaced by a Federation of states and regions. If England remains a single entity as it is in UK then it will always be a threat to Welsh and Scottish sovereignty as England is very large compared to Our nations. The fear we could even at worse of ending up in an Ukraine situation as with big neighbour Russia (as the UK under Tory rule). The only think that will convince me to… Read more »

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