Plaid Cymru calls for clarity from Labour on Single Market membership
Plaid Cymru has called for clarity from the Labour Party on the future of Wales’ economic links with Europe as Labour MPs in Westminster continue to contradict their colleagues in the Welsh Government.
The party has accused Labour of being confused as the official opposition in Westminster published 170 questions on Brexit that included membership of the single market as the first question – something which the Labour Party in the Assembly voted against and something which the Welsh Government incorrectly believes is only open to EU Member States.
Plaid Cymru’s International Trade spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP, attempted to gain clarity from the Labour Party during a debate in the House of Commons today (Wednesday 12th October 2016) but the response form the Labour spokesperson was vague and confused.
The UK’s membership of the Single Market ensures not only free trade with EU nations but also free trade with 53 other countries with whom the EU has bilateral trade agreements. Pulling out of the Single Market will mean losing these 53 trade deals as well as free trade with the EU.
Mr Edwards highlighted comments from the Welsh Government’s Economy Secretary, who said in an interview with the BBC that “being a member of the single market means you essentially have to be a member of the EU”.
Membership of the Single Market will remain open to the UK regardless of its intention to leave the European Union. Both Norway and Greenland are outside the European Union but members of the Single Market.
Commenting, Plaid Cymru’s International Trade spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP, said:
“The decisions facing the British state over Brexit are some of the most important they will face for a generation. It is critical that we find the best possible Brexit option and that we make it work.
“While the Tory Government creeps further and further to the right, prioritising right wing votes over the future of our economy, it is deeply frustrating that the so-called official opposition is unable to decide on any sort of credible position let alone effectively defend our interests.
“Our membership of the Single Market ensures that 60% of our trade is free. It not only allows free trade with the EU nations but also with 53 other nations with whom the EU has bilateral trade deals.
“It is unthinkable that anyone with a concern for the future of the Welsh economy – a country that relies heavily on exports – would argue against continued membership of the Single Market and while the Labour Party is happy to question the Tories over their commitment to it, their colleagues in Wales voted with UKIP and the Tories against continued membership.
“The Welsh Government’s Economy Secretary even believes that single market membership is only open to EU members, despite there being numerous examples of non-EU members being full members of the single market.
“I despair that these people are in charge of running our country.
“It is perfectly clear that maintaining our Single Market membership after we leave the European Union would be beneficial for the economy. Plaid Cymru is interested in protecting Welsh interest and unlike the other parties, we are not prepared to put pandering to the far right before the future prosperity of our country.”
Economy secretary quote: “being a member of the single market means you essentially have to be a member of the EU”.