Rhodri Glyn Thomas outlines his arguments for Wales staying in the EU.
It may seem unusual to see a Plaid Cymru politician – one who believes in greater autonomy for our nation – support Wales’ continuing membership of the European Union.
The EU empowers our nation, our businesses, our communities and our people far more than one may realise.
Europe: In or Out?
This week on Click on Wales we are debating whether Wales should remain in Europe ahead of the referendum on June 23rd.
You can read all of the series here.
Through our membership, the Welsh Government – as much as I disagree with its priorities and performance – is responsible for delivering a great deal of policies. Agricultural policy, worth £200 million per year to our farmers, and regional development worth more than £1billion is set by the Welsh Government.
This doesn’t include the research and development funding, marine and fisheries, lifelong learning or Youth Action monies.
Far from empowering us and “taking back control” as the leave campaign urges us, the reality is that exiting the European Union would see responsibilities removed from Wales and put back into the hands of politicians in Westminster.
Unlike the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the EU is a wealth-distribution union. We in Wales are net beneficiaries of that union. Every man, woman and child gets back £40 per head more back from Europe compared to what we pay in.
London is the richest region of Europe with west Wales and the valleys amongst the poorest. This is not the fault of Europe. This is the continuous hangover of a socially, politically and economically unbalanced British State where wealth is polarised in the south east of England.
Those who advocate a ‘Brexit’ say that “it’s our money” and what we could save from EU membership can be better spent in Wales. But all of my political life I have fought successive Westminster governments, of all hues, to see greater investment in Wales.
Anybody who believes we can trust Westminster to distribute wealth in a post-EU UK need only look at the decades and decades of underinvestment in our communities to see through this pipe dream.
We know that 1 in 10 Welsh jobs are dependent on our EU membership. We know that Welsh businesses undertake trade worth £5billion a year with Europe. We know that the EU accounts for 44% of all Welsh exports. What we don’t know is what a post-EU, post-leave looks like and what it means for our jobs, families, children and grandchildren.
Those who seek to divide us by scapegoating migrates for the country’s ills, and give us their faux outrage over ‘sovereignty’ have no vision or strategy for our future. Far from a leap of faith, we’re being asked to take a giant backwards step into the unknown.
The dismantling of the welfare state, policing budget and social service cuts and the rising level of poverty are the failures of Welsh and Westminster governments.
Leaving Europe will not change that fact that we have longer hospital waiting times, a lack of affordable housing, an increased pension age, or that our roads, rail and connectivity infrastructure have all been neglected. Only by changing the governments we elect in Wales and Westminster can these damning records be consigned to the dustbin of history.
Perhaps more fundamental than all of this, indeed far more fundamental than any of the Prime Minister’s so-called renegotiation deals is that we the people can decide what type of nation we want to be, and whether we want to be a full participant in forging our own destiny.
I want a Wales that is a progressive, outward-looking country which shapes its own future on the international stage and shares in the principles of partnership, solidarity and peace.
The EU is not faultless. There are many things we can and should change.
But the Europe of today is a much more secure and safer place than the Europe of conflict one hundred years ago.
We have an equal say in this referendum. Let’s not allow the squabbles of the political class of Westminster to hijack this profoundly important debate.
Let’s believe that we can achieve a better Europe together, with Wales taking centre stage within this family of nations.
5 thoughts on “A Europe of Partnership, Solidarity and Peace”
All this is very true, but what politicians like the sainted RGT fail to understand, and seem always to fail to grasp, is that logic or facts play no part in this. Populations sometimes behave like lemmings headed for the proverbial cliff.
Just look at what is happening in America where vast numbers of people, often labelled ‘stupid’ by the disbelieving ‘intelligensia’, are voting for ‘The Donald’ and for a Republican party that has no interest whatsoever in their welfare and which is totally owned and controlled by corporate interests.
Against such tides of ‘stupidity’ there are no barriers or sea walls.
Well done Rhodri, keep up the good work!
In truth, the Brexiters are pursuing a policy dictated by an imperial outlook where the drive towards hierarchical hegemony is seen as entirely normal and laudable; the EU is seen by them to prevent such a drive; in their analysis there is no counterargument (which is probably the cause of their constant whingeing)
the relationships between our neighbours – close and continental – are works in progress and have been for generations; our aim should be to establish mechanisms of (inter-)government that guarantee an equitable, just and sustainable society; terms such as ‘independence’ and ‘ever-closer union’ are then set in a wider context and reveal different meanings to those who might previously have had reservations; – our challenge should we wish to accept it!
spoken like a true left winger. What the politicos seem to fail to realise is that. The eu failed the moment it started going down political union instead of working on a free trade sector. Very few eu citizens I would argue ever thought that this is what would happen, only left wing socialist politicians who have a different agenda in the world to most of us. They live in a fantasy world in this. Its these very left wingers most of whom are likely to be voted out in future elections both national and eu who have been responsible for europes very poor politcal performance and have nurtured global business to eradicate the conditions of the very poorest in our society. In the uk real wages for the british working class have dropped considerably with the influx of cheap unskilled labour from all over the eu and beyond. They are respinsible for increasing indirect taxes on the poorest such as council tax! Council tax increases will push many more over the poverty line and into the foodbanks. What is their response to this these very socialist councils then sell the debt of these poor people to debt collectors. But as for peace in europe. The eu is not even remotely responsible for this. This is the legacy of nato and always will be and the american umbrella. These very socialist would destroy this solid fabric if not checked soon. When I voted all those many years ago to go into the eec it was for trade only. Had I or the majority of other citizens realised we were signing our country away to faceless burocrats in brussels and our very sovereignty to run our own lives, the result would have been a resounding no. Ironically the far left at the time such as tony ben argued this very fact. How right he was. Europe will thrive once the unremitting yoke of the eu and euro are dispensed with.
“Unlike the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the EU is a wealth-distribution union. We in Wales are net beneficiaries of that union. Every man, woman and child gets back £40 per head more back from Europe compared to what we pay in.”
Let’s look at the facts – Wales gets ~£14 BILLION a year from the English taxpayers and, using your figures, ~£120 million nett a year from the EU. Now tell us again – which is the most beneficial wealth-distribution union Wales is in?
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