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It’s not Brussels making the UK fall on its face, but good old fashioned facts

25 Oct 2018 3 minute read
An EU flag with a star missing

Liz Saville Roberts, Plaid Cymru MP for Dwyfor-Meirionnydd

It suits the British psyche to create a villain on whom we can blame our ills. For the past few decades that has been Europe.

From Gold Plating – the practice of self-overregulating and then blaming the EU – to the seemingly countless anti-European headlines, the seed of anti-EU sentiment has been cultivated by responsibility-averse politicians for a generation or more.

Today, I head into the lair and meet with Brexit-negotiator-in-chief Michel Barnier. I do not, however, expect him to be sat on a swivel chair stroking a white cat when we meet.

I meet Mr Barnier as part of a cross-party delegation of opposition party Westminster leaders. SNP, Greens and Liberal Democrats will join me.

The conspicuous absence of Labour has become commonplace, if not increasingly disappointing, at these crucial Brexit events.

Labour are devoted to a policy of creative ambiguity on Brexit. So creative is this ambiguity that not even their own frontbench seems to understand it.

The Conservative Party remain equally committed and confused on Brexit. This has never been more on show than on Monday, when we heard the Prime Minister tell us that 95% of a deal was done. Cue pithy quips about the Titanic completing 95% of its journey.

Theresa May’s own red lines continue to bind her hands, making any deal nigh on impossible. And the slightest deviation from the undeliverable promises she made over the past two years provoke cries of “betrayal” from her own backbenchers.

In turn, the image of us-and-them, the EU vs the UK, is only reinforced.


But here is the bad news for the Brexiteers – it is not the Prime Minister who is sabotaging Brexit. Neither is the ‘evil empire’ that is the EU scuppering our exit.

It is good-old-fashioned facts that mean the Brexit is falling on its face.

The truth is, the EU has been a force for good. And for the country I represent – Wales – that is truer than most.

That is not to say Wales has thrived – sadly, that could not be further from reality. But, let me put this as clearly as I can – that is not the fault of the EU.

In fact, the EU has mitigated the damage done to Wales by the negligence of Westminster governments, Labour and Conservative alike.

And as our impending exit from the EU is set to do irreparable injury to our county, an answerless Westminster continues to fail to offer any solutions to the questions we face.

This only serves to reinforce the necessity of the need for the people to seek solutions.

Today, opposition parties will raise this prospect with Michel Barnier.

No longer do we hear the claims that post-Brexit Britain will be a land of milk and honey. Perhaps that is because it seems like we may be confined to a diet of spam and potato peel pie post-Brexit.

The last vestige of a pro-Brexit argument seems to be that this was the ‘will of the people’.

The logical extension of this position seems blindingly obvious –the people that must decide whether we leave or not now we know the terms.

After all, democracy only works if people are free to make informed choices.

This article was originally published in the Times newspaper.

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