Uk’S Withdrawal from the European Union

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:58 pm on 13th March 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) 5:58 pm, 13th March 2019

I think that I have heard only one Member utter that profoundly silly slogan, “No deal, no problem”, although I did notice some rather prosperous-looking people outside the Palace this afternoon brandishing posters to that effect. The rest of us, even the most sanguine adherents to no deal, concede that there would be some economic pain—“in the short term”, some say. I would say that there would be no pain for the comfortably set up. It is the squeezed majority who would feel the pain, and no deal would be particularly damaging to Wales. My party will vote tonight to take no deal off the table, and, in our opinion, it would be best to do so permanently.

Amendment (c), which stands in my name and those of my hon. Friends, seeks to extend article 50, and it seeks a referendum.

I want to refer to some of the problems we foresee for my country if we follow the no-deal course. It would of course endanger public services and put people’s health at risk. According to Welsh Government analysis a no-deal Brexit would wipe £5 billion off the Welsh economy, meaning fewer jobs and lower wages. Some 60% of Wales’s exports go to the EU; in that respect, we stand out among the countries of these islands in that we have an exporting economy.

With the economy in decline under no deal, public services would be endangered in Wales. The number of EEA nationals in the social care workforce in Wales has grown by over 50% since 2011; without a deal, EU citizens’ rights to work here will be in question, at best, putting further unwarranted pressure on the NHS and the social care sector.

On health, people in the UK rely heavily on medicines imported from the EU; for instance 99% of the insulin used in the UK is imported, largely from the EU. The British Medical Association has estimated that no deal could lead to delays of between 12 and 24 months for life-saving drugs.

One concern that I have raised in the House—I did so last week—is the effect on agriculture. NFU Cymru president John Davies said this afternoon:

“There can be no doubt that a ‘no deal Brexit’
would be incredibly damaging to the Welsh agricultural sector and that eventuality should be avoided at all costs.”

In that respect, he agrees entirely with Glyn Roberts, president of the Farmers Union of Wales. We have two farming unions in Wales, and on this they agree.

The Secretary of State for Wales puts great store by saying he is the voice of Wales in Westminster, and he has the opportunity tonight, given that there is apparently a free vote, to stop playing games and come out strongly against the calamity of no deal.