I wish to speak in this important economy day debate from a Welsh perspective. Wales has received £4.5 billion in structural funds from Europe between 2000 and 2018. I am particularly proud that in 2000 I was able to convince the then Wales Officer Minister, Peter Hain, to allow my county of Denbighshire and the neighbouring county of Conwy in on that objective 1 European deal. Since that time, £4.5 billion from Europe and £4.5 billion from UK match funding has been spent in Wales. Thousands of jobs have been created.
In a practical sense, from my constituency’s point of view, that money was invested very wisely. It was invested in the OpTIC Technology Centre in St Asaph in my constituency, a £17 million research and incubation unit that has created hundreds of jobs. That European funding was involved in securing the flood defences and extending the harbour at Rhyl. Some £47 million has been given to Bangor University and £90 million to Swansea University.
The pre-Brexit promise to the people of Wales from extreme Brexiteers who visited Wales was, “Wales will not be a penny worse off if it votes to leave.” Some of the people in Wales believed that but, post Brexit, those guarantees have disappeared. I have spent the past 18 months since being re-elected to this place trying to chase down those guarantees, to no avail.
The optoelectronics sector in north Wales employs about 3,000 people and many of the contracts it has are for defence—they are for platforms; it supplies component parts to a tank or lorry, for example. We need that international trade. We need that European trade. We do not need the Brexit deal put forward for next Tuesday.
Airbus has said that it will “consider” reinvesting in its plant in north Wales because of what the Prime Minister has put forward. It will only consider doing that. There is no guarantee from it that it will invest in aerospace. Paul Everitt, head of ADS and the air industry spokesperson, said that the deal proposed for next week
“doesn’t take us back to business as usual.”
Businesses are scared of what they have seen. They are more welcoming to the Prime Minister’s proposal, but I think that is only because that gives them two and a half years to escape, instead of the three months of a no deal.
I also speak from a north Wales perspective on the issue of the sea lanes. We have heard about the 17-mile tailbacks that would affect Dover. Seven-mile tailbacks are predicted for Holyhead. We are already seeing sea lanes open from Cork to Santander and from Cork to Rotterdam. If we lose the sea lanes and lose that trade with Ireland, which is as big as the trade with Brazil, Russia and India combined—it is worth over £45 billion—that will be a problem. We need to preserve this trade.
The predictions that have been made, even by the Chancellor, suggest that the Brexit proposal before us will lead to a 3.9% decrease in our economy. He calls that “slightly smaller.” For me it is huge. There have been predictions that £800 billion-worth of trade will transfer from the City of London to Frankfurt. When these economic facts are put before us, we hear the Brexiteers crying that this is hysteria or “Project Fear 2”, but what are those rich Brexiteers doing? They are salting their money away in Monaco, Dublin and Singapore. Who will pay the true price of a bad Brexit? It will be the poor, just as they have paid the price for austerity. We are in this situation. I feel sorry for the Prime Minister, but she is the author of her own downfall. She put in place extreme Brexiteers. She put the Fox in charge of the henhouse and others, too. In the past two and a half years, they have brought misery, division and disunity to this country. I for one will not be voting for this proposal next Tuesday.