Plaid Cymru will vote against the Westminster Government’s latest Brexit Bill, which moves the UK towards exiting the Customs Union as well as the European Union.
The Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill is the Westminster Government’s latest in a series of Bills designed to implement its position of leaving both the Single Market and the Customs Union, as well as implementing the outcome of the referendum to leave the European Union.
Plaid Cymru MP and vice-Chair of the All-Party Group on Europe, Jonathan Edwards, will say today that the Customs Union is “the largest network of free-trading nations we have seen in modern times.” The Customs Union allows companies based in any of the UK countries to move goods freely to any of the 27 other members in Europe and the 67 additional countries with whom the Customs Union has trade agreements.
Mr Edwards will criticise the Labour Party for “playing hokey cokey” on Single Market and Customs Union membership, saying the “constructive ambiguity” of Labour Party’s position provides the Westminster Government with a “silver platter on which the Tories are able to serve up a damaging and destructive Brexit.”
He will warn that leaving the Customs Union will risk Holyhead Port’s future as the second busiest port in the UK, saying that a water border in the Irish Sea between Wales and Ireland would “devastate Wales’s already poor seaport towns” and lead eventually to freight being forced to bypass Holyhead and Wales. He will accuse the Westminster Government of considering the livelihoods of the people of Holyhead as “dispensable.”
He will also highlight the concerns raised by almost a dozen steel industry and union representatives that Westminster is creating a “lighter-touch approach to illegal dumping by China and others [in the UK] than in the remaining EU and any other major economy.”
Plaid Cymru MP and Vice Chair of the All-Party Group on Europe, Jonathan Edwards will say in his speech to the House of Commons later:
“Through removing physical and financial barriers to trade, the Customs Union has created the largest network of free-trading nations we have seen in modern times. The 27 members of the EU are not the only ones with whom we will lose our existing free-trade arrangements if we abandon the Customs Union - we will also lose our free trade arrangements with 67 additional countries with whom the Customs Union has an agreement.
“If certainty is the Westminster Government’s aim, and the status-quo is certainty, why is rolling the dice on over half of our imports and exports a good idea? Why is Westminster gambling away our citizens’s jobs and wages? Why is Westminster pulling us out of the Customs Union at all?
“The constructive ambiguity of the Labour Party’s Brexit position is providing the silver platter on which the Tories are able to serve up this damaging and destructive Brexit. Rather than playing hokey cokey when it comes to the Single Market and Customs Union, Labour MPs should join Plaid Cymru and make a clear stand that we are better off in these great European economic institutions.
“The tangible and immediate chaos that will be created by pulling us out of the Customs Union was vividly illustrated before Christmas when the negotiations were almost scuppered by the issue of customs borders on the island of Ireland. There would also be grave consequences for creating a customs border in the Irish Sea between Wales and Ireland, and therefore between Wales and the EU.
“In Holyhead there is simply no space in or around the port for the kind of infrastructure that will be required to process the number of lorries and trailers that currently pass through it. A hard border in Holyhead can only yield chaos.
“The inevitable consequence of physical constraints in and around the port is that freight will need to find ways to bypass Holyhead, Wales and probably the UK altogether. With the intention of pulling us out of the Customs Union, Westminster is making it clear to the people of Holyhead that they consider their livelihood to be dispensable.
“The steel industry will also be at risk if Westminster gets its way. Westminster has form when it comes to selling the Welsh steel sector down the river. They blocked attempts to strengthen EU trade defences against imports of cheap Chinese steel that devastated Port Talbot steelworks and took it to the brink of collapse. Now we are told by industry and union representatives that they are trying to adopt a lighter-touch approach to illegal dumping by China and others in the UK than the remaining EU and any other major economy.
“This Bill would be wholly unnecessary and its deficiencies of no concern, if Westminster followed the sensible path of remaining a member of the Customs Union. Plaid Cymru MPs will be voting against this Bill tonight and defending the interests of Wales and our constituents.”