Jonathan Edwards, Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr
Over a year ago, in an article for the Western Mail, I warned that when the crunch point comes, the House of Commons would face paralysis on Brexit.
There is no majority in Westminster for a hard Brexit that would do untold damage to people’s standard of living.
Should Theresa May lose a vote on her deal then there is little doubt that a vote of no confidence will immediately follow.
Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, it would then be possible for a government made up of MPs from all parties that support a sensible resolution, to come together under the banner of staying within the Single Market and the Customs Union.
The Chequers Statement and the resulting White Paper (although eviscerated by the extreme right of the Tory party this week) was welcome because for the first time since the referendum, the British Government signalled that, when determining its Brexit policy, protecting and growing the economy was deemed more important than immigration as the primary driver of policy.
Considering that shift, Theresa May’s red lines to date – that we must leave the Single Market and the Customs Union – make no sense.
The British Government is in a state of complete chaos and paralysis. The House of Commons has become a circus of ideology.
In the last few days, the Prime Minister has reneged on promises made to the European Union in terms of the ‘Irish backstop’ and supported amendments which have undermined her own Brexit White Paper, published only last week.
She has been defeated by the right-wing ERG (European Research Group – led by Jacob Rees Mogg), and by the pro-European wing of her party in separate votes, and only narrowly survived yesterday’s crucial vote on future customs arrangements thanks to Brexiteer Labour MPs.
Even if the Prime Minister was able to secure the support of the EU for her proposals, which is highly unlikely, it is difficult to see how they will be accepted by the House of Commons, particularly as the Labour Party has one strategy only – to force an early general election.
There is simply no point in having another general election when the Labour Party shares the exact same Brexit policy as the Tories.
The Plaid Cymru group in Westminster has worked, and will continue to work very effectively with sensible politicians from across all parties to defeat this hard-Brexit.
We have defeated Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn on crucial votes. We have consistently voted to protect people’s jobs, wages and standard of living by maintaining our place in the Single Market and the Customs Union.
Anna Soubry’s comments yesterday mirrored my suggestion last year – that those sensible MPs – from all parties – who have been voting against the Tory Government and the Labour front bench consistently since the referendum could come together in that window after a vote of no confidence, and apply our efforts at an executive level as well as on votes in the chamber.
No doubt the Labour Party will spin the pragmatic suggestion as evidence that Plaid wants to jump into bed with the Tories, but the reality is the opposite. We – that is MPs from every party – would be working against the Tories.
Tory policy, just like Labour policy, is to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union, and we have a duty to work with whoever is willing to work with us, to make sure that doesn’t happen, for the sake of our economy. One thing is certain – Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is not up to the task.
If it were to happen, it would be a short-lived arrangement, focussed solely on Europe, with a new Prime Minister to take charge of the negotiations, and our only objective would be to get the best possible deal.
The reality is that this is highly unlikely to present itself as a realistic prospect but the reaction by some to the pragmatic suggestion says more about their own tribalism than it does about those of us who are simply putting the interests of our respective countries first and foremost.
In the end, it is not our jobs as elected politicians that are important – it is the jobs and wages of our constituents.