5 good things about Brexit for Wales
There’s no denying that Brexit is going to be very tough for Wales. At present 68% of the exports made by Welsh workers go to EU member countries outside the UK.
Some of Wales’ biggest industries could also lose out. Manufacturing and tourism will suffer, as so will our universities which contribute over a billion to Wales’ economy.
Agriculture will also inevitably be hit. Subsidies from the EU are worth about 80% of Welsh farmers’ incomes.
But we shouldn’t just focus on the negatives. It’s clear now that we are leaving the EU, and we need to make the best of a bad situation.
Every cloud has a silver lining, so here are five good things about Brexit for Wales.
1. We can avoid the United States of Europe
You may be pro or anti-Brexit but the call by Martin Schulz for a United States of Europe shows that, in the long run, we may have had a lucky escape.
Germany’s Social Democrat leader wants Europe to become one united nation-state and says that any country that doesn’t agree should be kicked out.
You could argue that such integration would have been impossible had the UK remained a member.
However, there are many who have long suspected that a United States of Europe was the end goal.
There’s nothing to suggest Wales would be better off on the periphery of a USE than in the UK. In fact, it could be even worse, with a government even more centralised, distant and neglectful than it is now.
And with the EU turning a blind eye to the government crackdown on democracy in Catalonia, the new USE doesn’t look like a promising environment for stateless nations.
If Wales does vote for independence in the future, we could always sign up for a Norway style deal which would allow us to keep control over our own government and retain our nationhood.
2. Brexit will shake Welsh politics to its core
Before Brexit Welsh politics has been stagnant for years, with a lack of clear vision about what to do with devolution and no real incentive to take risks.
Brexit will hit Wales’ economy and society like a wrecking ball. One way or another, it will force our elected politicians to take drastic action.
More than two-thirds of people in Wales have said that they aren’t willing to lose any money as a result of Brexit. So when the economy does inevitably take a hit they will want answers.
Radical solutions will be needed and politicians without the vision or capacity to deliver them will soon find themselves in the firing line.
And when people see that the post-Brexit restructuring favours the south east of England, many will realise that it was Westminster neglecting Wales all along.
3. Wales has had enough of the status quo
Say what you like about Brexit but it was proof that Wales is willing to take a risk and vote against the status quo when it feels the need to.
Rightly or wrongly, and in the face or dire economic predictions, that took courage.
Brexit was a sucker punch aimed not just at the EU establishment but the Westminster establishment as well.
A lot has been written about how undemocratic the EU is and how it isn’t working in Wales’ best interest.
But Westminster is the EU on steroids. We have a completely unelected House of Lords, and a Government clinging on without a majority under an archaic voting system.
And the less said about their continued neglect of Wales, the better for them.
If the people of Wales were willing to vote for democracy and fairness in one referendum, they will vote to take control of their own future in their own country, as well.
4. The ‘too small, too poor, too stupid’ argument is gone forever
The UK Government has always sought to undermine Welsh aspirations for further autonomy by arguing that we don’t have what it takes it govern ourselves.
Wales’ economy isn’t self-sustaining, its people aren’t clever enough compared to the Eton-educated upper class at the heart of Westminster, and the country isn’t big enough.
Post-Brexit however and it’s suddenly the UK that looks like a hermit kingdom, small and isolated on the world stage, and drowning in debt.
And as for a lack of intelligence, you just have to look at the bungled handling of Brexit for proof that despite their cut-glass accents the Tories aren’t any better endowed in the brain department.
Being brought up to think you’re born to rule doesn’t necessarily make you any better at it than anyone else.
Wales is surrounded by smaller, independent countries which are much wealthier than Wales per head, such as Ireland, Iceland, and Luxembourg.
They are proof that in the digital age a small economy is a flexible one and that smaller countries such as Wales have what it takes to make a success of governing themselves.
5. The EU bogeyman can be blamed no more
I have a sneaking suspicion that the supposedly Eurosceptic UK Establishment didn’t really want us to leave the EU all along.
After all, without immigration and Brussels’ eurocrats, who would they blame for the UK’s ills?
Post-Brexit the onus is suddenly on Westminster to deliver. They can no longer blame uncontrollable immigration or decisions made by others on the continent for what ails us.
It is clear that the people of Wales voted for Brexit in part because they wanted to rid themselves of what the Express and the Daily Mail told them were malign influences.
But once the UK has ‘taken back control’, who will be to blame but those who were actually at fault all along – the UK establishment?
As a result, the public will hold the UK’s elected politicians to account for their own decisions. And perhaps realise that they aren’t working in our best interests after all.