Opinion

The Tories promised Wales a post-Brexit land of milk and honey – the curdled reality leaves a sour taste

27 Jun 2021 5 minutes Read
Picture by Tiocfaidh (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Luke Fletcher, Plaid Cymru Economy spokesperson

After yesterday’s heartbreak at the Euro 2020 championship defeat, a sporting cliché comes to mind to sum up the week in the Welsh Parliament; it’s the hope that kills you.

In the shadow of a global pandemic and with much post-election talk of a more constructive and conciliatory approach, I had hoped the Tories would now focus on building for the future.

Instead, Wednesday saw the Welsh Conservatives resort to type. They chose to focus their opposition debate looking back – marking five years since the referendum to leave the EU.

One after another, they traded a pot plant for a Union Jack on their Zoom screens and lauded the so-called luxuries afforded by leaving the European Union, of supposedly ‘taking back control’ of our laws, money, and borders.

Yes, Wales voted to leave the EU. Yes, my party campaigned passionately against that outcome. But, as set out in a key note speech by Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price in January of last year, we have also recognised the need for Wales to move on and seize new opportunities.

We must now shift our focus to making our economy more independent and our democracy more resilient. The question no longer is “if” Brexit happens but rather “how.”

As the Tories indulged in their jingoistic jamboree on the floor of the very Senedd which their party seems intent on stripping of its power this week, it seemed to bear no relationship with reality or the promises made by the UK Government before and since 23rd June 2016.

£350m a week for the NHS. Not a penny less for our farmers. “No downside” to Brexit.

It is the failure to keep the last of this trinity of tinpot pledges which seems to be causing such disruption and distress for Welsh businesses at present.

Figures released this week from a Beaufort Research survey analysing the exporting behaviours of small businesses in Wales show that Brexit comes out on top in a list of barriers to SMEs who currently export.

37% of the SMEs surveyed identified the UK’s exit from the EU as a barrier to their exporting activities, with one in four businesses which currently don’t export citing Brexit as a potential barrier.

Back in February, small businesses spoke of “drowning” in paperwork due to Brexit, adding that transit costs had increased considerably.

As my colleague Ben Lake MP warned at the time, large companies may have legal departments and the relevant expertise required to navigate yet another layer of bureaucracy, but small businesses are forced to fend for themselves.

A Welsh Conservative MP’s reaction? That in a few weeks people would “develop more expertise so we will see costs and time go down.” Expecting someone to develop expertise when it comes to complex legislation in just “a few weeks” is frankly insulting.

SMEs are the lifeblood of the Welsh economy. Those who produce locally, and trade globally now face the double-hit of inadequate Covid business support and an increase in the cost of exporting which for many is simply unsustainable.

In-house

That is why Plaid Cymru is making the case for greater economic independence – Welsh suppliers selling to Welsh businesses, keeping money in the local economy, raising procurement levels, and creating thousands of jobs in the process.

Research shows that for every 1% increase in local procurement levels, there is a potential to create up to 2,000 new jobs. We need to incentivise businesses of all sizes in Wales to adopt a “Local First” approach to shorten the supply chain in a way which benefits our economy and environment alike.

Whilst it becomes ever clearer that there is no such thing as a Brexit dividend for Wales, the Labour Welsh Government should be dialling-up the devolution dividend by taking tangible steps to strengthen our economy right away.

The Welsh Government could place a statutory duty on public bodies to adhere to national procurement guidelines and increasing the level of Welsh content purchased by the public sector’s first and second-tier suppliers.

They should also be breaking up contracts where possible into lots to enable small companies to bid and commit to ending and reversing outsourcing in the public sector, bringing activities back in-house or at least under local control and delivery.

Decaying

While the Tory vision of Brexit promised the land of milk and honey, the curdled reality leaves a sour taste.

As a party committed to a future in which Wales stands on its own two feet, Plaid Cymru’s focus is now on challenging Westminster’s encroachment on our nation’s economy, culture, and constitution.

Brexit is failing. Britain is failing. The latest demonstration of desperation on the part of the UK Government is a widely ridiculed plea for all school pupils to partake in a sycophantic sing-along.

‘One Britain One Nation’ represents nothing more than one last throw of the dice for a decaying union – a desperate own goal from a Tory party losing its way and intent on blocking Wales’s path to prosperity.

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Chris
Chris
1 month ago

If only we had experts warning about the disastrous effects of this jingoistic adventure before the vote …. oh wait, we did!!!
but people’s desire to “stick it to Johnny Foreigner” and reduce the number of brown people motivated them more.
The cultists aggressively assure us that they knew what they were voting for. Which makes one wonder why they deliberately chose to make life worse for everyone, held hostage in the Kleptocratic State of Brexistan

Last edited 1 month ago by Chris
Nial Curran
Nial Curran
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

What on earth?

1. Predominantly white Wales voted for it.

2. Brown people? This to do with Europe. The Commonwealth has different rules if that is what you mean,.

Rich
Rich
1 month ago
Reply to  Nial Curran

Nial, if I had a penny for every brexiteer I’ve argued with that WAS voting to have fewer brown people in the UK. The referendum was held just at a time when the Calais “Jungle” camp of predominantly Asian and African asylum seekers/ irregular migrants was on our television screens every night. A great many people made the false link Jungle=Calais=France=EU: ie. a vote to remain= all these “Jungle”-type residents coming to UK. Too many people did not distinguish between EU migrants coming legally as a result of European freedom of movement and people from outside the EU seeking asylum… Read more »

Jane Mahon
Jane Mahon
1 month ago

Haha! You voted for it now enjoy!

defaid
defaid
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane Mahon

No, Jane. They voted for what was promised, not what was delivered. That’s the whole point of the article.

Das Böse Büro.
Das Böse Büro.
1 month ago
Reply to  defaid

This is the most terrible excuse I’ve read in years. Is like people complaining about “hey, advertisement said this pills will make me 20 years younger, I didn’t wanted this pile of useless chemicals”.

Sorry, don’t look for excuses. This is 100% voter’s fault. Saying otherwise is more pathetic than ridiculous….

Quornby
Quornby
1 month ago

Quite correct. How half the UK population can be hoodwinked by a loud bunch of right wing chancers is beyond belief. However there you are they voted for it and are now in denial about the half empty fruit and veg shelves, the horrendous new export paperwork, the Westminster kidnap of previous EU funding and all the rest of it.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

“£350m a week for the NHS. Not a penny less for our farmers. “No downside” to Brexit.” Empty promises from a bunch of wide boys – very true, but it is/was doable and that’s the bit that those who wished to Remain also fail to see. Indeed if you factor out the unforeseen effect of Covid the spending of 350million on NHS would have been a grand folly without some serious rethinking of service requirement and its delivery going forward. Pouring that sort of cash into any service without a very detailed deliberation would have been madness. Of course Covid… Read more »

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Wise words. This site should now go subscriber-based, and begin serious discussion.

Andy
Andy
1 month ago

And you suckers fell for it like right idiots. Stop your tears you snowflakes and get over it. You got what you wanted.

defaid
defaid
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy

The point made in the article, in case you failed to understand it, is that they didn’t get what they voted for.

And insulting people isn’t going to endear you or your view to anyone, is it?

Frank Ba
Frank Ba
1 month ago
Reply to  defaid

You know, actually I as an European have to shake my head. 

They voted out of pure self interest and to hurt others, now they end up hurt and it is about “not what they voted for”.

It is exactly what they voted for, it just not who they thought they would be hurting.

They thought they would not be the ones getting the short end.

Das Böse Büro.
Das Böse Büro.
1 month ago
Reply to  defaid

Again, is smells like the dark side of the bull. An agreement is made of two sides: the UK and the EU. So you cannot vote for something which requires the counterpart to agree. EU had no burden in make UK fulfil its promises. Is like I promise you , if you vote for me then, Naomi Campbell will be your girlfriend, despite of the fact she don’t want it, never wanted it, and perhaps will not do it. They promised the people that the EU would have agreed with this and that, and now that this prove false, you… Read more »

Hannergylch
Hannergylch
1 month ago
Reply to  defaid

Most people are too unaware of the world beyond celebrity tittle-tattle to have made a rational choice in the Brexit referendum? If they’d been asked “Do you want restrictions on the movement of goods between the UK and the EU?”, they wouldn’t have understood the question. If they’d been asked “Do you want (i) a hard border in the Irish Sea, (ii) a hard border on the island of Ireland, or (iii) neither?” they would not have seen the connection to Brexit, even if you showed them a map & tried to explain what Ireland actually is. Perhaps some of… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Hannergylch
Mark Rhydderch-Roberts
Mark Rhydderch-Roberts
1 month ago

I made a well argued and perfectly sensible comment earlier. Why has it been removed? Doesn’t it fit with the nationcymru groupthink whereby only left wing nationalists making the same comments to each other are allowed?

Nial Curran
Nial Curran
1 month ago

Anything that isn’t an outright xenophobic slur gets deleted.

Or anything that isn’t bigging up some article that seeks to highlight Welsh victimisation from a point so stretched it would take your eye out if it snapped.

Only comments from a handful of people who speak for themselves only remain.

defaid
defaid
1 month ago

Aye. I replied to the four points you made in your comment, too. It lasted all of five minutes…

We had opposing views so it may be a N.C bug rather than censorship.

Last edited 1 month ago by defaid
Hannergylch
Hannergylch
1 month ago

Two tips to help you get your comments accepted: Avoid sweeping generalisations about people whose opinions differ only partly from yours. For instance, a lot of us see merit in having taxpayer-funder services (defence, education, health) existing alongside entrepreneurship. The former are arguably “left wing” (including defence if we’re funding it through taxes instead of private subscriptions to Blackwater), while the later is arguably “right wing”. So it’s pretty irritating when you label everyone you disagree with as “left wingers”. You would feel the same way if your advocacy of entrepreneurship were used to misrepresent you as an exploitative 19th… Read more »

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

Very true, all the promises regarding Brexit were always a long shot with the possibility of it being a disaster far more likely. Brexit was always going to hit Cymru hard with our high export to the EU percentage and high level of EU funding. Now the only option left to us as a nation is independence, at least the path out of this mess will be in our own hands.

CJPh
CJPh
1 month ago

Plaid, mun! We know you have to play by the current rules in the current British political game, but don’t forget why you exist – to start a new game. Our game, on our terms with our rules. The UK leaving the EU has boosted the independence movement, allowing the Cymry to conceptualise massive structural changes. That’s the goal here, isn’t it? Well, now we know how it could go. Cymru as part of the UK+remaining in the EU=Cymru remaining in the UK (due to the Spanish and French governments antipathy towards separatism in their respective states). Cymru as part… Read more »

Lorenz
Lorenz
1 month ago

“I warned you! I warned you, but did you listen to me? Oh no, you knew it all, didn’t you? Oh, it’s just a harmless little bunny, isn’t it? Well, it’s always the same. I always told them, but do they listen to me? Oooh, no…”
Tim the Enchanter,

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
1 month ago

It is pointless arguing about Brexit. Just avoid urban England in case of NI bombs, keep an armageddon cupboard and a full tank of petrol and if you can get hold of a shotgun make sure you also get plenty of cartridges.
This is going to get a whole lot worse before Leavers begin to question their choices.

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