In an open letter, Remain campaigners call for Welsh Conservative MPs to stick to their promises.
An open letter to Welsh Conservative MPs
You have now been representing a Welsh seat in this Parliament, as a member of the governing party, for more than six months – eight of you for the first time. They have been momentous months in which the precariousness of both our physical and economic existence must have impressed itself on you as never before.
From your interactions with your constituents you will know first hand that this crisis has revealed an abundance of resilience and courage in many forms, while also instilling nervousness and fear and, in many places, imposing hardship and tragedy.
You will also know as well as anyone that the danger has not passed. We may be on the way to containing this first wave of the virus but, in the absence of a vaccine, medical experts fear a second wave may occur next winter.
Its effects are already leaving deep scars on our economy and public finances, not to mention on the education of our children, whether in schools or universities, as well as on our wider culture. Your own workload, in the constituency and Westminster, must tell you daily that nothing has escaped this pandemic’s reach, whether direct or indirect.
This is the dark backdrop against which the country and the government is also embarked upon another momentous course of action which would have entailed considerable risks even at the best of times – our departure from the European Union. The decision to leave has been taken. We have long fought against it, but now accept that it is going to happen.
But we do ask that you and your colleagues take stock of the wide-ranging consequences of this unprecedented health crisis when assessing the time needed to negotiate as smooth a withdrawal as possible from the EU, especially as the roll call of redundancies – Airbus, GE, Celtic Manor etc. – gains momentum.
In the last three months it cannot have been possible for the Prime Minister and other government ministers – not to mention the officials of the EU and the governments of other EU countries – to give the withdrawal process the attention it deserves. There is no blame attached to that. Lives were, literally, at stake.
Nevertheless, the Government has decided not to seek an extension of the Transition Period, as provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement. But sticking to an artificial deadline of 1 January 2021 does not release the Government from the promises made to the electorate in its 2019 General Election manifesto, the obligations of the Withdrawal Agreement or principles it agreed with the EU in the Political Declaration.
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Your electors will surely find it hard to understand, or forgive, if clinging to an impossible negotiating timetable were to end in a sub-optimal deal, or even no deal at all, when more time and patience might yet produce an outcome that matched all these promises.
This must surely require that you hold your own government to the following:
▪ To negotiate an ambitious, wide-ranging free trade agreement with the EU and, therefore, not to contemplate leaving the EU without a deal,
▪ Not to allow trade negotiations, the Agriculture Bill or any other measure to compromise our high environmental, animal welfare and food standards,
▪ To ensure that there is no erosion of our high standards on human rights, workers’ rights and consumer and environmental protections,
▪ And to ensure that trade deals do not transgress or erode the rights of the devolved governments.
We urge you and your colleagues to stand by the pledges that you made to your constituents at the last election – to give us what you promised.
The Political Declaration sets out a negotiating agenda that would be daunting, even without the intervention of the Covid pandemic. If you judge that it needs more time to deliver on those promises, it is your duty, even now, to urge your government to take it.
As an MP representing a Welsh constituency you will know just how much Wales has at stake. It has sat for too long at the bottom of economic league tables in the UK. Fighting Covid is taking an extra toll on its people and businesses. It cannot now afford new burdens.
We urge you to protect your own electors and the country against broken promises and rash decisions, taken against self-imposed deadlines, even while the Covid bell tolls.
Helen Wales (Chair) Wales for Europe
Mark Brenchley (Communicator) Brecon & Radnor for Europe
Dr Charles Smith & Robert Evans (Joint Chairs) – Bridgend for Europe
Neil Schofield-Hughes (Chair) Cardiff for Europe
Mark Sheppard (Organiser) Carmarthenshire for Europe
Iwan ap Dafydd (Joint Lead) Ceredigion for Europe
Aled Canter (Chairman) Denbighshire for Europe
Simon Jones (Treasurer) Flintshire for Europe
Belen Martin-Caravaca (Secretary) Gwent for Europe
Martin Hughes (Convenor) Gwynedd for Europe
Padraig John O’Brien (Organiser) Merthyr for Europe
Ceri Young (Representative) Neath Port Talbot for Europe
Alistair Cameron (Chair) Pembrokeshire for Europe
Paul Willner (Chair) Swansea for Europe
Sally Stephenson (Co-founder) Vale for Europe
Shaun Thomas (Chair) Valleys for Europe
Geraint Talfan Davies (Exec Committee Board Member) Wales for Europe
Phil Dore (Exec Committee Board Member) Wales for Europe
Peter Frederick Gilbey (Exec Committee Board Member) Wales for Europe
Neal Cole (Chairman) Wrexham for Europe
Gareth W. Roberts (Group Convenor) Ynys Mon/ Anglesey for Europe
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