Wales’ Labour government doesn’t want the power to protect us from a hard Tory Brexit

Jonathan Edwards MP

Jonathan Edwards MP

Today the House of Commons will hold a rare session of the Welsh Grand Committee, where Westminster MPs come together to discuss the impact of Westminster policies on Wales.

Plaid Cymru MPs raise these matters on a daily basis of course but the Welsh Grand Committee is when the unionist parties do so too.

That we haven’t had a session of the Welsh Grand Committee since February 2016 gives an indication of how seriously the unionist parties take it.

Today’s session will focus on the Budget and its impact on Wales – 11 weeks after the Chancellor gave his Budget statement.

MPs would be forgiven for having completely forgotten what the Chancellor announced and how it will impact on our citizens had the Chancellor announced anything at all for Wales, but luckily for us, there were very few announcements in it for us to forget.

There was a £145 billion package of rail investments for “England and Wales”, none of which involve Wales at all, other than the fact that our citizens will be allowed to use these railways too.

Meanwhile, the one project that they did promise Wales – electrification of the Great Western Line to Swansea – was scrapped, and the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon was kicked into the long grass.

My response to these repeated examples of the Westminster dividend is simply – if they are so clearly not interested in investing in our country, then give us the tools to do it ourselves.

Self-harm

This principle applies just as much to our trading relationships around the world as it does to infrastructure investment.

Suffice to say, Westminster’s pre-determined strategy of leaving both the Single Market and the Customs Union after we leave the EU will go down in history as an act of grave self-harm.

It’s not just Wales’ trade with Europe – our most important trading partner – that looks perilously close to disaster.

If the UK leaves the Customs Union, future trade deals with the rest of the world will be negotiated by Westminster, not the EU. The same Westminster that considers HS2 and Crossrail to be in “England and Wales.”

From an “England and Wales”, Westminster perspective, financial services and the City of London are infinitely more important than Welsh manufacturing and agriculture.

The demise of Wales’s key economic sectors would make little difference to Westminster but any hit to manufacturing and the food sector will have a disproportionate impact on the Welsh economy.

As was set out in the Welsh Government’s recent paper on trade deals, many of the poorest areas of Wales are also the most dependent on either manufacturing or the agricultural industry.

These are the areas whose protections Westminster is preparing to negotiate away, in search of trade deals with China, New Zealand and Trump’s USA.

Protection

The First Minister’s statement this week, therefore, that trade should be a matter for Westminster and Westminster alone, was one of the weakest and pathetic statements he has made on Brexit to date.

The First Minister, as he was giving evidence to a Westminster committee on constitutional affairs, said he did not think it would be appropriate for Westminster to have to seek the agreement of all four countries before signing a trade deal. Instead, we should simply be consulted.

Even when reminded by an ardent Brexiteer on the right wing of the Conservative Party, that Wallonia – a region of Belgium – will need to agree to any future trade deals involving Belgium, the First Minister insisted that forcing Westminster to get the agreement of all four UK countries would be inappropriate.

It appears that our national government’s ambition is to be consulted on trade policy, but to have no responsibility or ability to genuinely protect our interests. We should be allowed to air our concerns, but nobody should have to act on them.

Wales finds itself in the position of being ruled by a hostile, right-wing Westminster Government – for whom Wales did not vote – hell-bent on selling off our public services and flooding our own internal markets with cheap foreign imports, undermining our home-grown industries, and our own national Government in Wales doesn’t want any power to stop it.

The Labour Party’s desperate lack of courage and ambition is a drain on our country’s future. With uncharted waters emerging following Brexit, it is critical that Wales has a national government that stands up for our country and refuses to dance to Westminster’s tune.

That a region of Belgium will have more of a say on future EU-wide trade deals than Wales will have within the British State makes a mockery of the suggestion that the UK is a partnership of equals.

Giving the UK countries an equal and formal role in forming new trade deals will not only protect our respective countries’ interests but also advance them. We should be building positive relationships and expanding opportunities for Welsh businesses abroad, not undermining them.

Until Wales takes its own future into its own hands, we will continue to be a western region of “England and Wales” whose interests are at best ignored, and at worst sacrificed by a government whose focus will always be aimed at the City of London.

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Gwilym ab Ioan
Guest

“Until Wales takes its own future into its own hands, we will continue to be a western region of “England and Wales” whose interests are at best ignored, and at worst sacrificed by a government whose focus will always be aimed at the City of London.”

The word you’re looking for is INDEPENDENCE Jonathan.

John Young
Guest
John Young

‘My response to these repeated examples of the Westminster dividend is simply – if they are so clearly not interested in investing in our country, then give us the tools to do it ourselves’. I imagine you, Jonathan, will read the responses to your article so here’s my response.

English people WON’T give us the tools to do it ourselves, because they just don’t care, so it’s up to us to TAKE the tools by making Wales independent.

sianiflewog
Guest
sianiflewog

yes, i support independence for our Cymru. The thing is, how many people would vote for it in a referendum? It is not attainable at the present moment. We do however have to prepare our country and our people for independence: change people’s perceptions of themselves and our country. To do that we need a political party that encourages/celebrates cymreigtod (weshness) and that prepares a strong economy that could sustain independence. As i and others have commented many times on this site, the ‘welsh labor partei’ is not and could not be the political vehicle for such a change. They… Read more »

Gwilym ab Ioan
Guest

There is a solution, and an answer to your pleas sianiflewog.

http://sccambria.com/NewParty/RegisterInterest/

Benjiman L. Angwin
Guest
Benjiman L. Angwin

Splitting the nationalist vote is silly.

A new group within Plaid Cymru which fuses Lib Dem and Welsh Nash ideas, Liberals Cymru, seeks to give centrists and Liberals a voice as an organised group within Plaid.
Its contacts: twitter @libcymru , email: libcymru@gmail.com

Gwilym ab Ioan
Guest

Your views are extremely old fashioned and out of date Benjiman, what’s more they are by now believed by a shrinking number of people who have seen through that ancient defunct argument. Those arguments are also the product of a myth propagated by a party that wants a monopoly, but which is no longer fit for purpose. The days of the ‘old brigade’ parties is over – they’ve had their innings and failed to score the runs. They can’t complain, because they’ve had their chance over a long period and failed to deliver. The very same silly argument as yours… Read more »

Benjiman L. Angwin
Guest
Benjiman L. Angwin

Your conzept soundz ze bit Alternative für Deutschland.

Sieg Heil für das gemeine Volk von Walischen!

CambroUiDunlainge
Guest
CambroUiDunlainge

I don’t think there’s any need for that Benjiman. There’s a lot of people with reservations about the Liberal-spectrum and rightly so considering the part it played in our recent past. If you feel that strongly then convince people. The ultimate test for any cause is gaining support – but trying to insinuate something like that when you disagree is a bit over the line.

Ultimately Plaid has already split the Welsh nationalist vote by being niche. Now its support is fracturing through silliness, pettiness and the inability to put nation before self.

Dafis
Guest
Dafis

oh dear, I must have missed this earlier. I thought you were a bright intelligent person able to make a contribution to a debate. Now it becomes evident that only your version of the “truth” is acceptable and you have to resort to name calling to make your case. If there is any resemblance to Das Reich here in Wales then we see it in the shabby antics of our established parties. Being wedded to that illogical linear model Left Centre Right is symptomatic of an underlying inability to make real change. just a little shift along the line –… Read more »

Gwilym ab Ioan
Guest

I was wondering how long it would take you to bring Godwin’s law (or Godwin’s rule of Hitler analogies) into the debate Benjiman. Godwin’s Law states that: “As an online argument grows longer and more heated, it becomes increasingly likely that somebody will bring up Adolf Hitler or the Nazis. When such an event occurs, the person guilty of invoking Godwin’s Law has effectively forfeited the argument”. The sad thing is your comment is totally off the wall and irrelevant considering what we were discussing. Lose an argument, or fail to find a plausible, sensible or civilized response to a… Read more »

Benjiman L. Angwinp
Guest
Benjiman L. Angwinp

Jonathan, mae angen creu cyfoeth cynhenid Cymreig cyn cyfunir y syniad o Gymru â buddsoddiad San Steffan. Yn eu bydolwg nhw, gwelir buddsoddiad fel modd cynyddu canol-leoedd cyfle economaidd sy’n bodoli yn barod.

Felly, awgrymwn i anelu at grey cydweithfaoedd preifat yng Nghymru ym lleoedd ble mae Llafur yn gryf, sy’n lledaenu perchnogaeth. Because if you give people ownership and responsibility they are less likely to vote Labour out of their own healthy, human self-interest.

Povety perpetuates Labour’s ideas. Therefore we should get rid of poverty without using Labour’s ideas. Human nature will then defeat Welsh Labour itself.

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Come off it! Your arguments are becoming increasingly off the wall and delusional, and now your appealing to some notion of ‘human nature’ as if that actually meant something. It doesn’t. Human nature can be called into any argument, even that of supporting Labour ideas, or fascist ideas, or the most deluded of ideas. In my experience people using the human nature argument, unspecified, (there are, after all, many different theories about human nature, which whilst often fascinating, don’t actually get us very far) are those trying very hard to impress us with their none too bright intellects, as it… Read more »

eric hall
Guest

I’ve no idea why you’re publishing this article now. It’s rather like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. You should have been publishing these articles two years ago before the referendum took place. Even now, with Airbus’s operation in North-East Wales, the voters have seen fit to elect to defend themselves and their jobs someone whose public goal seems to be vengeance for his father and has made no public comment that I can trace about his intentions vis-a-vis the EU. So the voters of Wales voted, and they’ll be getting exactly what they voted for. And… Read more »

Benjiman L. Angwin
Guest
Benjiman L. Angwin

Jonathan, mae angen creu cyfoeth cynhenid Cymreig cyn cyfunir y syniad o Gymru â buddsoddiad San Steffan. Yn eu bydolwg nhw, gwelir buddsoddiad fel modd cynyddu canol-leoedd cyfle economaidd sy’n bodoli yn barod.

Felly, awgrymwn i anelu at grey cydweithfaoedd preifat yng Nghymru ym lleoedd ble mae Llafur yn gryf, sy’n lledaenu perchnogaeth. Because if you give people ownership and responsibility they are less likely to vote Labour out of their own healthy, human self-interest.

Povety perpetuates Labour’s ideas. Therefore we should get rid of poverty without using Labour’s ideas. Human nature will then defeat Welsh Labour i

Michael Matthews
Guest
Michael Matthews

Leanne Wood should spend less on Facebook concerning herself with Catalonia and violent right wing demonstrations and concentrate her efforts in returning to Wales its legal and judicial systems, control over our police, railways and natural resources. FacebookN Ireland and Scotland do so, why not Wales?

Graham John Hathaway
Guest
Graham John Hathaway

I’m battling with the political notions that have concreted themselves for many generations and that is Labour for the working class, for equality and justice, solidarity within a workers’ union. A large left leaning in its politics, with even worker ownership as the means of production. And the Conservatives with is largely right, self interest, prosperity through enterprise, less State handouts, work ethic is paramount, and competition drives up standards and lowers costs. So, if Wales has politics of the former, to the greatest extent, but also other political parties, that when banded together will be equal too, or more… Read more »

Eos Pengwern
Guest
Eos Pengwern

A large part of the problem is that independence, or even any substantial improvement in living standards within an existing polity, cannot be achieved from the Left. How can it be? Consider this thought experiment: you start off with a mixed society where you have people who are ‘rich’, and people who are ‘poor’. A party of the Left sets itself up, claiming that it will better the lives of the ‘poor’ to make them more like those of the ‘rich’. Let’s suppose (and we’re stretching it here, since it’s never happened anywhere as far as I know) that they… Read more »

Daniel Cavanagh
Guest
Daniel Cavanagh

I must say, I expected better from you than this piss-weak argument. As if you can boil a complex society and politics down to such a simple thing The trend you describe is but one small one of many, and to say that it defines the fortunes of the left is ridiculous > On the other hand, a party whose natural support-base is richer people – call them a party of the Right if you like (personally I don’t like, but that’s a discussion for another time) – has every incentive to better the lot of poorer people, because by… Read more »

Eos Pengwern
Guest
Eos Pengwern

Daniel, I actually agree with a lot of what you say; that is why I presented my case above as a thought-experiment, rather than a complete description of reality, and was careful to use the words (which you were good enough to quote) “call them a party of the Right if you like (personally I don’t like, but that’s a discussion for another time)”. Part of the problem is that when we use the term ‘right wing’ in everyday discussions, it has at least three mutually-exclusive meanings: 1) Those who wish to maintain the status quo at all costs, and… Read more »

Eos Pengwern
Guest
Eos Pengwern

Blast, my hyperlink didn’t work because of a misplaced quote mark: we could really do with a ‘preview’ or ‘edit’ facility here! When I wrote “..can be found here”, there should have been a hyperlink under the word “here” going to: http://archbishopcranmer.com/marx-pareto-anglican-bishops-socialist/

Graham John Hathaway
Guest
Graham John Hathaway

Really the width of fag papers seem to separate the less different expressions of what politics means in terms of outcomes and who really benefits. I would see the argument that we shall always have the poor, and chronic dependants. The test of a decent society is how we protect the vulnerable. It’s not about should we, but by how much. I don’t see eg the sense where benefits equate with earnings potential of those unemployed. But that’s an emotive issue. A just society is where people feel that Govt is creating the best opportunities to live with prospects of… Read more »

Graham John Hathaway
Guest
Graham John Hathaway

Should I somehow retreat to my castle, and spy your comments from my raised fortifications, there would be little bow and arrows that I could safely aim at any of potential outcomes from declared intentions of and particularly the hard left movement of socialism. That policies will prove effective and the basic instincts of self protection, rather than shared values, and feelings of comradeship, will be dominant. My home is my castle analogy. Or my car, holidays abroad, to hell with the environment, as much more unpleasant traits. Very unlikely to view You have given food for thought. I would… Read more »

Jonathan Edwards Sir Benfro
Guest
Jonathan Edwards Sir Benfro

Sorry but my namesake has failed again. Sadly there is not one person amongst the Plaid leadership that can answer my question – which is “What is your road map for Wales to take its future into its own hands” Here is my road map Plaid campaigns for an Assembly Bill which sets up an elected Welsh Constitutional Convention. (Tough going, they’d have to understand it, then explain it, and be willing to fight Labour in Wales, also Whitehall and Westminster, who won’t make even this elementary step easy) Assembly passes Act for an elected Welsh Constitutional Convention. Elections are… Read more »

Petroc
Guest
Petroc

Not just Wallonia with a veto. Remember too that Lwcsemburg, Cyprus and Malta, all less than a million people, will also have a veto as will Estonia, Slofenia, Latfia and Lithwania; all smaller than Wales. If the UK gets no agreement then Wales and the UK will be leaving with no deal into WTO terms of trade. So thats 27 states and two regions with more than a say… but no voice for Wales, no Assembly at all in NI, and an SNP government in a real pickle.

Gwilym ab Ioan
Guest

And that succinctly sums up the deplorable state that a colonised country lands up in. Not very fair is it?

The arguments for true independence are heaping up. How long can England defend the indefensible? That Cymru is too small, too poor and too stupid to govern itself.