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Labour must share the blame for the Brexit mess at Westminster

31 Mar 2019 5 minute read
Picture by Tiocfaidh (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Liz Saville RobertsLeader of the Plaid Cymru Westminster Group

Another week, another Brexit motion. Once again, however, this latest Brexit vote was neither the vote we need, nor the vote we deserve.

Devoid of the numbers required to win, unwilling to provide the certainty people and businesses require, absent of any future plan – the UK Government’s pointless cycle continues unabated.

While I welcome the forthcoming opportunity on Monday to vote again on a series of options (what is called indicative votes), it is imperative that we now shift to a voting process which will guarantee a majority and a positive outcome.

These unconventional times call for unconventional solutions. We need a definitive decision on the next step, and run-off votes on a smaller number of options is the only way to guarantee this.

The British state is afflicted with a Tory Westminster Government behaving like Olympian gods, as though my constituents (many of whom have livelihoods dependent upon exporting to European markets), are mere pawns in their elite games.

From its foundations, Brexit has always been a top-down Tory project dressed up as a populist revolt.

As in law, friends, ask the question cui bono? Look for who benefits, and you will identify the suspect. And those who most often quote Latin in Westminster look set to do very well out of those communities manipulated into blaming their inequality on a scapegoat.

Unfortunately, instead of speaking with MPs who have a sincere stake in protecting continental trade on behalf of our constituents, Theresa May has continually kowtowed to these Teflon aristocrats.

Men and women – though mostly men – whose living standards will remain unperturbed by economic decline while my constituents pay the price.


Whether out of deceit, duplicity or deception the Prime Minister responded to her repeated humiliations by going on national television and blaming MPs for her own personal failure to govern.

By and large, public servants enter parliament to serve the public. We are now ensnared, however, in procedural minutiae; in twists and turns of Byzantine complexity, a six-volume Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the British Empire, played out in painfully tedious slow motion in what used to be respected as the mother of parliaments.

In an alternate universe, the Prime Minister would pull her fingers out of her ears and listen to anyone other than the ‘no deal’ Brexiters in her own party or the Leader of the DUP. An alternate universe where we could have used the last two and a half months to make some progress, decide on what the House thinks is the best way to move forward, and simply get on with it.

That is not what the Prime Minister pursued and so here we are – no further forward than we were on that referendum day almost three years ago.

Plaid Cymru in cooperation with colleagues across the House have suggested ways forward to commandeer decision-making. My colleague Jonathan Edwards MP suggested using indicative votes as an alternative voting system way back when this Government lost its first meaningful vote.

Unfortunately, the official Opposition have been reluctant to support us in opposing Brexit at every turn. Shadow Trade Secretary, Barry Gardiner, confessed this week that “Labour is not a Remain party” – as if we didn’t already know.

Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition have, however, sought to oppose some things. Namely membership of the Single Market and Customs Union to protect jobs and livelihoods, revoking Article 50 in the event of a no-deal to stop economic Armageddon, and a People’s Vote to put the final deal to the public.

Had the Labour Party simply done its sole job and opposed any of the disastrous moves by this Government, not simply closed its eyes and wished it all away, we would today have a clear route forward. We would not now be swaying to the whims of the ERG, the DUP or any other nightmarish acronyms.

This blame is Labour’s to share.

Alas, for as long as we stick to this archaic, dysfunctional Westminster system, we are stuck with Her Majesty’s Opposition being as useless as Her Majesty’s Government.

At the behest of both the Brexiteering unionist parties which dominate it, parliament has so far failed to make any decisions about our future relationship with the European Union. This is entirely their faults.

I must warn the Labour Party that what happened in Scotland could happen here, too.

If Wales leaves Europe because of Labour Members, Labour fiefdom in Wales is at an end. If Labour abandons the interests of Wales, Wales will abandon Labour.

Plaid Cymru stand ready not just to fight Brexit for Wales but to fight for Wales every day thereafter.

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