European Union (Withdrawal) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:54 pm on 7th September 2017.

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Photo of Liz Saville-Roberts Liz Saville-Roberts Shadow PC Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Women and Equalities) , Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader, Shadow PC Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 4:54 pm, 7th September 2017

I want to focus briefly on the Government’s wilful misinterpretation of what Brexit means and the constitutional car crash that this Bill entails. Article 50 has been triggered and we are leaving the European Union, but sense can prevail if the Government guarantee our future within the single market, customs unions and the pan-European agencies that are the foundation of Wales’s economy. Stating that we can have those advantages by another name is self-deluding. The benefits of continuing our membership of the customs union and single market are well rehearsed, but they warrant an abridged version, because they guide my party’s principles.

Wales’s export-led economy is reliant on European markets, where 67% of our products find their final destination. Wales is a net beneficiary of European funding to the tune of £245 million. All in all, 200,000 Welsh jobs are inextricably, crucially and vulnerably linked with the great institutions of European economic co-operation. For the sake of argument, let us assume that the dozens of economists, exports and I are scaremongering and that it is not 200,000 jobs that will disappear from the Welsh economy, but perhaps only half of that or a quarter. Will Ministers please be precise and quantify how many Welsh jobs they are willing to sacrifice in pursuit of the UK’s brave new role at the vanguard of some globalist utopia?

My right hon. and learned Friend Keir Starmer, the shadow Secretary of State, was eloquent today and concentrated on the Government’s attempted constitutional sleight of hand. Despite the various contradictory push-me, pull-you position of numerous shadow Cabinet members, I believe that their official position is evidently simply to delay the pain and pull us out of the customs union and single market following a period of transition.

Beyond the single market and customs union, there are upward of 40 pan-European agencies that form the basis of our international relations across a range of policy areas. Whether ensuring that planes can safely take off and land, the regulation of life-saving medicines or the safety and security of nuclear material, it seems as though the Government are willing to sacrifice all the advances made by our membership of those agencies, but for what? We are now staring down the barrel of an extreme Brexit gun, and the truth is that the two Westminster parties have their fingers on the trigger. My party exists to serve the people of Wales and that is why I felt it important to re-emphasise what the consequences will be for Wales in particular.

My hon. Friend Hywel Williams will discuss this in greater detail, but we are seeing a constitutional power grab not just here with the Henry VIII powers, but in the powers that have been handed to our devolved nations. The way in which they will be handled in future is frankly shameful. I will not apologise for defending my country from the disastrous dystopia that will be created by this Government’s Brexit strategy, and I will be voting against this Bill’s Second Reading.

Ordered, That the debate be now adjourned.—(Rebecca Harris.)

Debate to be resumed on Monday 11 September.