Why Remainers should vote for the Liberal Democrats in Wales
Alistair Cameron, Welsh Liberal Democrat Candidate for the European Parliament
The Welsh Liberal Democrats are the party to Exit from Brexit. We were the first party to call for a People’s Vote in Summer 2016. This vote must allow us to choose to remain in the EU.
Wales benefits greatly from EU membership. Manufacturing, farming and tourism all rely on frictionless trade with the rest of the EU. Our ferries at Holyhead, Fishguard and Pembroke Dock need easy access to Ireland.
60% of Britain’s food, feed and drink exports go to the EU. If there is no deal, exports to the EU will face the same tariff rates as goods from other countries outside the EU.
We would need to apply for Export Health Certification and be subject to sanitary controls. This could amount to an effective trade embargo for many months.
We could, of course, set our own tariffs. However, if the government is tempted to lower tariffs to deliver lower customer prices, this will harm domestic production and throw many farmers out of business.
If we strike our own trade deals with other countries, we could be pressurised to adopt lower health, safety and animal welfare standards. The US Government has criticised some EU standards and NFU Cymru and FUW are concerned about a level playing field and production standards.
Leaving the EU could be particularly severe for Welsh agriculture. About 40% of Welsh lamb is exported and 95% of that goes to the EU. Effective World Trade Organisation tariff rates on lamb are 46%.
A large percentage of dairy exports go to the Republic of Ireland. If there is a no deal the cheese industry would lose access to the Irish processing capacity.
Liquid milk from Northern Ireland could therefore enter Wales, England and Scotland leading to over supply. Leaving the EU could lead to tariffs on cheese exports.
Although we are a net importer of beef, we do export some beef with over 90% going to the EU. Tariffs on beef are between 48% and 84%. If tariffs are dropped, this will seriously damage domestic production.
There will also be an impact on vets and veterinary medicines. 60% of Government service vets and 90% of vets in meat hygiene are non-UK nationals. No deal could lead to a shortage of vets.
In addition, border controls will need to be sufficiently staffed with vets. We import over 90% of animal medicines and vaccines. It is difficult to stockpile such items as they have strict expiry dates and often require refrigeration.
Restrictions on freedom of movement will affect our food production including potatoes and soft fruit. Wales is not well placed, economically or geographically, to compete with English regions for scarce EU labour.
EU workers are critical in food processing and the abattoir section in Wales, as well as hospitality. Even an attempt to create a special dedicated EU worker scheme will be fraught with difficulty, due to obfuscation and lack of empathy from the Home Office.
Leaving the EU could destroy the livelihoods of many who work in farming in Wales. This will have a major knock-on effect on our rural communities including our Welsh language and culture.
Welsh Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign for a People’s Vote on EU Membership which gives us the chance to vote to remain. We want an Exit from Brexit.
Of course, we are not the only party which wants to remain in the EU. However, we believe if you want to remain in the EU you should vote for the Welsh Liberal Democrats.
We are standing as an open, outward-looking, tolerant party which values individual liberties and social justice and which cares for future generations and our planet.
It was a Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, who persuaded the European Union to adopt tougher policies to tackle global warming which, in turn, led to other countries taking a stronger line against carbon emissions.
We have deep roots in local communities and our hard-working councillors have represented many areas in Wales for many years. We have supported devolution in Wales.
However, just as we want to work with our European neighbours within the EU, so we want to continue to work with our British friends and neighbours as part of the United Kingdom.
We reject calls to split up the United Kingdom and we want to work together to tackle our common challenges.
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