The case for rejoining Europe’s economic frameworks is a no-brainer.
Hywel Williams MP
The Tories sold the lie that we could have all the advantages of being in the EU while also being outside all of its economic frameworks. That was a lie, and it still is a lie.
How tedious then, in the middle of economic hardship made worse by this Brexit disruption, to see the Labour leader Keir Starmer peddling the same lie. He claims that he can ‘make Brexit work’ while remaining committed to the cause of the disruption: being outside the single market and customs union.
Keir Starmer is in Paris today meeting Emmanuel Macron, to seem statesmanlike on the world stage. If he’s hoping for the French President to provide the UK a miraculous solution to solve the Brexit contradiction while remaining committed to the fundamentals – he will be disappointed.
Brexit, as we all know, is now a reality, with Wales officially out of the European Union. This transition has brought its fair share of difficulties for Welsh businesses, particularly those exporting to the EU.
Plaid Cymru’s long-term solution is no secret – for Wales to rejoin the EU as an independent member state. We remain as committed as ever to that aim – but it will be up to the people of Wales to decide whether they want to pursue that aim.
For the UK as a whole, in the meantime, the case for rejoining Europe’s economic frameworks is a no-brainer. Despite all the political lies told over the past few years, geography and economic reality remain the same. The European Economic Area remains the largest economy in the world. It is the world’s largest trading bloc. And it is on our doorstep. There is no avoiding that simple reality.
Two recent developments can give us hope that we’re moving in the right direction. Firstly, there’s the Horizon programme, which funds scientific research across Europe. Initially, the UK decided to leave this initiative, asserting that it would establish a superior scheme.
However, reality struck, and we are now back in Horizon. Unfortunately, as a non-EU member, we must pay to rejoin and have no say in shaping the rules—a prerogative reserved for EU member states.
Secondly, there have been issues concerning exports from the UK to Ireland. After extensive negotiations, we’ve secured an agreement for “green lanes” that facilitate the movement of goods from Britain to Northern Ireland without checks. While the specifics are complex, this development is a positive step.
What about Welsh exports transiting through Dublin to Northern Ireland, you might wonder? The UK Government revealed to me after extensive parliamentary inquiries that green lanes will also be established for Welsh exporters. This means goods can travel through Holyhead, the EU (Republic of Ireland), and then back into the UK (Northern Ireland). It’s admittedly intricate, but this is excellent news for Welsh businesses, providing hope that we can recover some of what we lost when we initially left the EU.
There is, therefore, hope that common sense is beginning to prevail. But the Labour leader is at risk of being left behind public opinion if he doesn’t recognise that even if he wins power, he will have no power over the geography and economic reality of our continent.
Plaid Cymru will unashamedly continue leading the way in making the common-sense economic case for rejoining Europe’s economic frameworks, even if the Westminster parties are stuck in the delusions of the Brexit years.
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