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[2nd day]

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:05 pm on 1st February 2017.

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Photo of Liz Saville-Roberts Liz Saville-Roberts Shadow PC Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Education), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Health), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Women and Equalities) , Shadow PC Spokesperson (Energy & Natural Resources), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Local Government), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Justice) 6:05 pm, 1st February 2017

I want to make a few brief points about this Bill. Of course, Wales is a net beneficiary of the EU, receiving £245 million, or £79 per person, more than we pay in. In rural constituencies such as mine, that funding makes an impact way beyond what this figure implies. For rural communities, the common agricultural policy is the most important financial contribution that the EU makes, yet the Conservative party stands ready to switch off these vital support mechanisms that are essential to our already struggling isolated communities, with no indication of how it will make good the damage, or even whether it intends to.

I shall spend a few sentences exploring the increasingly divisive and much-misused word “freedom”. It was its antonym, “control”, that dominated the leave campaign’s market-tested propaganda, but it was an almost messianic pursuit of this most emotive of concepts, freedom, that drove us to break free from Brussels. [Interruption.] “Freedom to” and “freedom from” are the opposing and disputed understandings of liberty that have arguably underpinned the political divide for centuries. However, if we strip away much of the leave campaign’s divisive and reprehensible rhetoric, we find that it is its dogmatic belief in a freedom from Brussels that catalyses its distrust of the EU. In its polarised, simplistic view, now that we are free from the Eurocrats, once again the sun will never set on our shores. [Interruption.]