ST David’S Day

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:08 pm on 28th February 2019.

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Photo of Ronnie Cowan Ronnie Cowan Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Infrastructure) 2:08 pm, 28th February 2019

If the Welsh put out their second team, that might help us, to put it mildly.

Often we romanticise Scotland—dashing Jacobites, the flamboyant house of Stuart and a twee caricature of what we truly are. I would hate to fall into that trap when talking about Wales. It has a vibrant linguistic, literary and musical past, present and, most importantly, future. In Scotland, we like to think of ourselves as great contributors to the world, and so are the Welsh. Those contributors include Edward George Bowen, pioneer of radar; Martha Hughes Cannon, pioneer in women and children’s medicine; John Dee, founder of the new school of English mathematics and one of the greatest polymaths of all time; Bill Frost, the Welsh carpenter who patented the aeroplane in 1894 and took to the skies in a powered flying machine the following year, eight years before the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk; William Jones, the noted mathematician and the first to use pi as a mathematical symbol; Brian Josephson, Nobel prize-winning physicist; Francis Lewis, signatory of the US declaration of independence; William Henry Preece, an electrical engineer who was a major figure in the development and introduction of wireless telegraphy; Bertrand Russell, philosopher, mathematician and Nobel prize winner; Alfred Russel Wallace, who conferred with Darwin on the evolution of species; and Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Richard Burton and “Ivor the Engine”—the list goes on and on. And I thought all they did was play rugby!

Scotland and Wales are nations with a strong tradition in agriculture and forestry, which plays a vital role in our economies. The last two years have seen the Scottish Government and Welsh Assembly work together in a spirit of constructive collaboration as we seek to protect our nations from the threat of Brexit. Protecting Wales from the impact of a Tory Brexit will be vital to the Welsh economy. Figures released on Tuesday show that a no-deal Brexit could cause the Welsh economy to shrink by up to 8%. Between 2014 and 2020, Wales is due to receive €5 billion in EU-related funding. Some guarantees are in place for the period after Brexit and beyond 2020, but uncertainty remains over the future shape of regional development and agriculture funding. The UK Government should ensure that all voices are heard from across the UK as they proceed with Brexit negotiations. I add a word of warning from Dylan Thomas: do not go gentle into that good night.

To close, I will say this to the people of Wales: when Scotland claims its place at the top table as an equal independent country among equal independent countries, we shall keep a seat beside us for you, and if it is your will, I hope that you will join us.