Saturday, 19 March 2016

Welcome change of heart by Labour over EU

Memories of the Blair-Brown government resisting progressive EU measures to the last ditch are beginning to fade as current Labour leaders come out against Brexit. One recalls Gordon Brown refusing to be part of signing ceremonies in Brussels, and of the last Labour administration having to be forced to legislate for sensible working hours and for outlawing ageism in the work-place. Socialists used to condemn the EU as a "rich man's club".

Jeremy Corbyn has reluctantly come to realise the benefits of membership and today Carwyn Jones, leader of Welsh Labour, has issued a warning about what Brexit would mean for Wales. In an interview for the Independent, he said that

 a vote to leave the European Union would spark a constitutional crisis that could put the future of the UK at risk.

[He warned]  of the disastrous political consequences if the separate nations of the UK vote different ways in June. The Welsh economy would “tank” in the event of Brexit, as EU grants to the nation disappear and multinational employers pull out. We might be in a position at some point in the future where the Welsh people are asking which union – the UK or the EU – we should be a member of.  We benefit from our membership of the UK, just as we benefit from our membership of the EU and it’s sad from a Welsh perspective that we are being asked to choose between one or the other. 

The article points out that rural areas like West Wales and the Valleys get far more EU funding than many other areas in the UK, while Welsh Labour says that nearly 200,000 Welsh jobs rely on EU membership and more than 40 per cent of exports, including 90 per cent of Welsh lamb, go to the EU.

The First Minister further attacked the “flag-waving nationalism” behind elements of the Brexit campaign. He said:

 an Out vote would signal the collapse of a £1.2bn regeneration and transport deal for South Wales that was announced earlier this week. [...] major firms and manufacturers would quit Wales if the country lost access to EU markets. We have companies in Wales who are here because it is their European base, and if we are not in the EU they will go elsewhere. It won’t happen overnight, but they will go after an exit vote. When I go abroad looking for investment to bring to Wales, EU membership is absolutely fundamental.

A favourite UKIP line is that "it's our money", that every £1 we receive from various EU funds costs the UK £3. Mr Jones' interview and the Indy's assessment point to Wales getting more back than it puts in.

No comments: