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Monday, August 01, 2016

Welsh Tory Leader misses the point on Brexit

Welsh Tory leader, Andrew R.T. Davies has a massive cheek in demanding in today's Western Mail that pro-European parties actively embrace the result of June's referendum.

He complains that 'instead of accepting the result and seeking a positive outcome for a post-Brexit Wales, there is a sense of active hostility to it from the Welsh Labour Government and Plaid Cymru. A profoundly toxic political narrative is merging; a sense that they are privately willing it to fail.' Very much like the anti-European forces in the 1970s then, or the anti-devolutionists today.

Mr. Davies should acknowledge that we live in a democracy which guarantees a hearing for minority opinions. But more importantly he also has to understand that those who are prepared to take responsiblity for governing Wales have to put the nation's best interests at heart, and that means ensuring that Brexit does not see reduced investment and a poorer economic climate for business.

I happen to believe that Wales' best interests are best served within the European Union, that membership of the EU guarantees peace and prosperity for the forseeable  future and that our diverse multi-ethnic society makes us stronger as a country. I am not going to abandon those views on Andrew R.T. Davies' say-so, nor will I abandon my opposition to those who have a different viewpoint.

Everybody knows what Welsh voters narrowly voted against, but nobody can say what they voted for or what the consequences of that vote are. This problem is compounded by the lies and the undeliverable promises that won the referendum for the Brexiteers, a group which includes Andrew R.T. Davies.

If we really could guarantee £350m a week extra for the NHS and that all the money coming to Wales from the UK Government and the European Union would continue to flow here after we leave then there would not be a problem.

However, UK Government ministers are refusing to back up those guarantees and all those who fought for a leave vote on the basis of those promises have walked away and left it to others to take responsibility for their inconstancy.

We have been put in the position of having to interpret the will of the people, many of whom voted to leave so as to give the establishment a bloody nose or because they believed the racist propaganda and lies being churned out by Farage and his ilk, that leaving the EU will curb immigration and save us from an influx of 70 odd million Turks. There is little wonder that remainers are hostile to the outcome of this vote.

We are still waiting to see the opportunities that Andrew R.T. Davies talks about. We have yet to see how our relationship with the EU and the rest of the World will develop in the light of the leave vote. These are matters for UK politicians but Welsh ministers will be actively working to protect Welsh interests in that process.

Yes, we must embrace whatever emerges from this mess so as to get the maximum benefit for Wales, but even then a healthy scepticism and a resolve to fight for better outcomes will be the order of the day. And in the circumstances who can blame Ministers and pro-EU parties for keeping their powder dry whilst actively scrutinising every promise, every set of talks and every utterance by the UK Government?

Predicting the outcome of negotiations is beyond even the prescient crystal ball-gazer. It is certainly beyond Andrew R.T. Davies. The final terms of our exit from the EU may well be very different from that imagined today by leave voters and the absent leaders of the leave campaign.

In my view that uncertainty makes the case for a second referendum on the final deal. Parliament must debate and endorse the Brexit terms, but voters also have to have the chance to endorse or reject the final deal.

This is not a black and white issue. It is time the Welsh Tory leader understood and acknowledged that fact.
The majority voted 'to leave the European Union'. It matters little that you and I voted to 'remain a member of the European Union'.

As such, the way forward is clear. We leave the EU lock, stock sand barrel. Everything. Theresa May understands this, BREXIT means BREXIT. But that doesn't mean we can re-join certain elements if we so chose, albeit at a later date and with due permissions.

It's important the order of decision making is honoured in accordance with the result of the plebiscite. If not, democracy is shown to be undermined.

Democracy, or the rational basis of decision making within a democracy, was totally undermined by the misrepresentations and outright lies told by those who backed the Leave campaign. It is important, therefore, that any further decisions are based on the true state of affairs – and that true state may well be that the country's best interests are served by NOT leaving the EU.
I don't think any of the sides were offering 'a manifesto'. This was not a General Election. It was a public vote on an important public question.

I suspect those members of the public that didn't feel sufficiently well informed probably didn't vote at all. More fool them. It's time they learnt that it isn't up to others to educate and inform. They bear that responsibility alone.

It was a perfect exercise in democracy.
In view of terrible GVA ratings and PISA data the Welsh Assembly has failed to deliver on at least those two fronts: the economy and education. Yes, the source of this is a one-party state, but that's what we have in the Welsh Assembly.
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