Exiting the European Union: Meaningful Vote

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:02 pm on 11th December 2018.

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Photo of Hywel Williams Hywel Williams Shadow PC Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Brexit), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Cabinet Office), Shadow PC Spokesperson (International Trade) 4:02 pm, 11th December 2018

I have had my opportunity to speak in the five-day debate, but many Members have not, and the position they have been put in is unclear and, indeed, entirely unacceptable. Democracy delayed is democracy denied. The Prime Minister is playing a potentially catastrophic hand by delaying the vote on her deal, as has been outlined repeatedly during this debate. It is abundantly clear that her tactic is, yet again, to delay and delay until, at the very last chance, we are railroaded into accepting her deal—reducing the meaningful vote into this meaningless mess.

Today, the Prime Minister is hawking her views around the 27 again, which is futile. The deal itself is not negotiable, as we have heard. The Prime Minister may get the appearance of a clarification on the political statement, but despite all its fine words, the political statement is just a statement of intent. She will satisfy no one.

I believe a motion of no confidence should be brought forward at the earliest possible opportunity to provide enough time to pursue another course. For us in Plaid Cymru, the Prime Minister’s actions make the case for a people’s vote all the stronger. That vote must be a choice between the deal that is on the table and to remain. There is no majority in this place for anything else, such as the fantasy of our leaving with no deal at all. Significantly, the Prime Minister’s deal has been decisively rejected by both the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament. It must be put to the people.

The no deal option is not acceptable to this House, and from his words earlier, neither is it acceptable to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. We would not be at liberty to do as we please in the world, as some suppose, and it would be disastrous for the people of the United Kingdom, particularly poorer people and those in areas seen as peripheral. As an example, I am thinking in particular of farming in Wales. Tariffs against our farming interests would devastate the industry both in Wales and through much of upland Britain.

Finally, we must not be satisfied just to remain. Wales and other parts of the UK have suffered enough from poverty, and from the austerity that has provided advantages for the few and fundamental economic injustice. This crisis must be a turning point. A vote to remain has to be a vote to reform, to renew and to regenerate; it cannot be a vote simply for the Europe that is, but for the Europe that can be—social, democratic, decentralised and diverse.