UK’s Withdrawal from the EU

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 3:27 pm on 14th February 2019.

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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) 3:27 pm, 14th February 2019

The Prime Minister asks us to hold our nerve and give her time. One has to ask: more time for what? The answer is unclear, other than the obvious one, which is that it is to run down the clock towards early March. Despite the furious denials, that seems increasingly clear, as we have heard this afternoon. It seems the Prime Minister cannot move an inch without enraging one faction or other of her own party. Brexit is problematic, but currently the problem is not the Irish, it is certainly not the Scots, or, for that matter, the supine Welsh Government, and it is not the backstop; the problem is clearly in the Conservative party. It is unsupportable that we are being led to this disaster for that very reason.

We are encouraged to keep our nerve while the wrangling proceeds and while the obfuscation for party advantage proceeds—to keep our nerve to keep our seats, while outside the bubble people are losing their jobs. We keep our nerve, they lose their jobs. Let me give a practical example. A small castings company in my constituency is an exporting company with products of the very highest quality. It is committed to the community in which it was established and which it serves, and from which it gets its workforce. Last time I talked to it, it said it was now looking at establishing a distribution centre in the Netherlands because it cannot face the confusion that now oppresses it. Only four jobs are affected, but for that community and that company, four jobs is a huge loss. Four jobs repeated endlessly across all the countries of these islands is a huge, huge burden that we could avoid.

After many years of representing Caernarfon, then the Arfon constituency, I have come to recognise the signs of a Government in desperate straits. We now have some more signs to add to the list—major Government defeats, crucial votes delayed without reason and a recess cancelled for no more than a few statutory instruments and general debates. As my hon. Friend Liz Saville Roberts said yesterday, this is a broken Britain, with its democracy stumbling, its economy unbalanced towards the south-east of England and inequality continuously amplified.

From the outside, the bickering and jostling for position seems to be entirely unreasonable and irrelevant to people’s everyday lives. It ignores a basic point that drives me and my party: any form of Brexit would leave Wales and the whole of the rest of the UK worse off economically. I concede that most well-to-do people who occupy the Benches in Parliament will probably be fine under Brexit, but my constituents—working people, factory workers, students, retired people, families and children—will not.

I want to confirm that my party will vote for the amendments and against the Government’s motion. Forgive me for finishing on a familiar note by repeating what my party has said over and again as Brexit day looms, but the reasonable solution for the Prime Minister is to reject no deal emphatically and then to put a vote on her deal, in whatever form that is, to the people to have a final say.