Leanne Wood AM, Leader of Plaid Cymru
“Running around in circles screaming” was the sum-total of the Labour First Minister’s plan to mitigate the worst of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit for Wales. That’s what he told me in First Minister’s Questions.
Westminster is in chaos and leaving the EU without a deal looks more likely than ever.
The Westminster Government, beginning to face-up to the consequences of its own incompetence, has confirmed to MPs that no-deal planning has begun in earnest.
The head of NHS England has also confirmed extensive no-deal planning is underway for health services across the border.
In Wales, nothing of the sort.
In the country set to be most affected by a no-deal scenario, the First Minister refuses to plan for it.
No deal. No plan. No vision.
In fact, the Labour First Minister claimed that such provisions were impossible.
With reckless abandon they choose political expediency instead of responsible government – washing their hands of the whole issue and blaming the Tories rather than offering real leadership.
Rather than defending Wales from the increasingly possible no-deal scenario, they are putting party before country – a hallmark of Labour rule in Wales.
The Labour Welsh Government’s own analysis confirms £5 billion will be wiped off the Welsh economy by a no-deal Brexit.
37 million patient packs of medicines are imported to the UK from the EU every month. In a ‘no deal’ scenario, there is no guarantee that a single one of these packs will make it to Wales.
Yet, Labour think there is no point in planning for such an outcome.
There is, of course, a simple solution – we stay in the Single Market and Customs Union, as Plaid Cymru has argued from the very beginning. Labour and Tories alike seem intent on pulling us out of both.
I accept, that the blame for the current chaos does not lie wholly at Labour’s feet, but that does not absolve them of their responsibility to act to mitigate against it.
That said, Labour are undoubtedly complicit in creating a context conducive to a ‘no deal’ separation from the EU.
They voted for Article 50 without sight of a plan, abstained on votes that would keep us in the Single Market and have failed to articulate anything close to a coherent alternative to the current extreme Brexit we are facing.
The Westminster Government’s irresponsible approach to the most serious issue in generations is now laid bare. The Conservatives are not only coming up against each other, but up against reality. Those who misled people during the referendum are absconding as the facts force their arguments to crumble. And the slow-death of Theresa May’s Government seems inevitable as a result.
Whether it is through chaos or a coup, a disastrous no-deal Brexit now looks more likely than ever.
The writing is on the wall for the economy and the Labour Welsh Government can’t afford to ignore it – our biggest employers are warning of the perils of crashing out of our largest trading bloc.
Labour in Wales must now do their job. They must now accept reality. They must plan for a no-deal scenario.
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