This article originally appeared in The Sunday Times on 19 August.
Liz Saville Roberts MP is Plaid Cymru’s Leader in Westminster.
Mistakes were made on both sides. Exaggerated claim was met with equally exaggerated counter-claim. We now find ourselves, however, on an ever-steeper incline, accelerating towards the abyss of Brexit.
When plans for emergency food rationing and cancer drug stockpiling have to be justified due to the actions of the Westminster Government, it is quite clear things aren’t going quite to plan.
And the public have noticed.
Last week YouGov undertook polling in Wales at the request of Plaid Cymru. Its finding were stark, but hardly surprising.
When the people of Wales were asked whether they thought Brexit would negatively or positively impact the UK, 44% opted for the former and only 35% chose the latter.
This contrast increases further when it’s taken down to the personal level – only 25% of people think that it will lead to positive outcomes for ‘them and their family’, while 36% believe Brexit will have a negative impact.
Sadly, this margin is at its highest when the people of Wales were asked about Brexit’s impact on their own nation. Just 28% of people believe Wales will benefit from Brexit. A staggering 48% now believe our exit from the EU will impact Wales negatively.
Brexiteers will, I’m sure, explain this away as the impression left by the pessimistic picture painted by the ‘Remoaners’. It is not, however, EU-apologists who are painting this drab picture – the visionary artists creating this public perception are increasingly Brexiteers.
It now seems our trajectory is set for a No Deal. This was the analysis of Trade Secretary Liam Fox, which has been confirmed by briefings of Government preparations for a crash landing come March 2019.
Leaving without a deal is a scenario that no government nor sensible individual would ever have championed – whatever their political hue.
Such statements only serve to cast a light on the Westminster Government’s sovereign incompetence. Particularly considering it was the same person, fantastic Mr Fox, who asserted that a trade deal with the EU would be the “easiest in human history”. No phrase could better demonstrate the wilful naivety of the architects of Brexit.
Putting the disastrous consequences for the economy, jobs and wages aside, a No Deal Brexit puts everything from citizens’ rights to security cooperation at risk. Those who advocated our exit from the EU did not win a mandate to create a country poorer, less secure, with fewer rights. But according to the Westminster Government that is exactly where we are heading.
So inept is this Westminster Government that almost half of the Welsh public now believe, deal or no deal, Brexit will be bad news for their nation. In fact, so bad is this Government’s handling of the negotiations, only 1% of people polled thought it was going “very well”. 74% thought it was either going “fairly badly” or “very badly”, with the second of those two options being the most commonly selected.
The truth is, the public can see that the promised post-Brexit land of milk and honey now looks more likely to contain a lactose-substitute-drink and Spam.
Bizarrely Brexiteers’ biggest fight is not with Theresa May nor Jeremy Corbyn (whose positions on Brexit could be separated by a tissue). It is not with Remoaners. It is not even with the Establishment – from whence they came and against whom they now – confusingly, mendaciously, cynically – take aim.
The Brexiteers’ fight is with reality. And the public can increasingly see it.
I do not blame those politicians who advocated Brexit without knowing its effects. We have all been wrong. But its time they stepped back from the edge. If the Brexit Old Believers continue to adhere to the zeal with which they have foisted their unleavened ideology on these isles – now knowing full-well Brexit’s true impact – they will be accomplices to an unprecedented act of national self-harm.
Wales voted to leave the EU thanks to lies peddled by disgraced former Cabinet Ministers and criminal cheats. Lies that are unravelling with break-neck speed as we approach the maelstrom of March 2019.
We must not remain lashed to the mast of past mistakes.
People can now see that Brexit is not to their benefit. It’s time for the fanatical Brexiteers to swallow a spoonful of their own medicine and listen to the will of the people. It’s time to look again at whether Brexit is where Wales’s future lies.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,034 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 9th – 13th August 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults in Wales (aged 18+).