Give Wales a lever over Brexit

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Plaid Cymru AM Adam Price has suggested the terms on which the UK exits the European Union could be put to the people of Wales in an advisory referendum, whilst his constituency colleague Jonathan Edwards MP called for an extraordinary meeting of Welsh MPs to discuss the future of Wales' economy and agricultural industry post-Brexit.
Speaking at the National Assembly on Tuesday, local AM Mr Price said that Wales currently lacks leverage in the Brexit debate to ensure the economic needs of the nation are reflected in the Brexit negotiations.
 
Floating the suggestion, Mr Price said the details of an advisory referendum would need to be carefully considered, but suggested it could include a multi-option choice on whether to retain membership of the Single Market and Customs Union, as well as leaving the EU with no deal in place.
 
First Minister Carwyn Jones said the idea was "interesting" during his statement on the future of Welsh trade policy on Tuesday. 
 
Adam Price said Plaid Cymru wanted voters to have their say on the type of relationship the UK has with the EU after Brexit, and that his party would be exploring the idea over the coming weeks.
 
At a meeting of Welsh MPs at Westminster's Welsh Grand Committee on Wednesday – the first time the committee has met since February 2016 - local MP Jonathan Edwards called for a special meeting of Welsh MPs to specifically discuss the future of the agricultural industry and rural communities and the Welsh economy post-Brexit.
 
Speaking from the Assembly, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr AM Adam Price said:
 
"Northern Ireland has its border with the Republic.  Scotland has independence.  What leverage does Wales have to ensure its best interests are heard and, more importantly, reflected in the Brexit negotiations?
 
"An advisory referendum could be an opportunity for the people of Wales to have their say on whether they want to place barriers to trade with the European continent, or whether they would like to continue to have the frictionless trade and customs as Welsh businesses and exporters currently enjoy.
 
"Plaid Cymru is clear that, with over 90% of our food and drink exports going to countries in the EU, it is in our economic interest to remain members of the single market and customs union. 
 
"We want voters to have their say on what future relationship they want with the EU after we leave, and for that view to be respected by Westminster. 
 
"An advisory referendum can do that, and make Wales relevant in the Brexit process.  We will be exploring this more fully and providing further detail over the coming weeks."
 
Speaking in Westminster, MP Jonathan Edwards said that the risks facing Wales as a result of the Westminster Government's hard Brexit are severe, warning that, if the country is forced out of the Customs Union and Single Market, Welsh businesses, manufacturers and farmers will lose their existing free trade arrangements with more than 80 countries around the world, and our own internal market will be opened up to cheap imported products.
 
Speaking after this calls for an extraordinary meeting of Welsh MPs, Jonathan Edwards said:
 
"Westminster's blind assertion that every country in the UK will have to leave the Customs Union and Single Market after Brexit will go down in history as an act of grievous self-harm.
"Our economy is driven by our exports and our status as a Customs Union and Single Market member allows our exporters to trade freely with more than 80 countries across the world.  No free trade deal will match the terms offered by our existing memberships.
 
"Rural Wales in particular will suffer unless we maintain our ability to sell our agricultural products to our trading partners for free, and unless we categorically rule out making our own internal market open to cheap, mass-produced imported food products from the USA or other exporters.
 
"Agriculture is the focal point for the rural economy – supporting rural high streets, the tourism economy and small businesses across the country.
 
"With the National Assembly for Wales powerless to act on international trade, it is critically important that this very real crisis towards which we are headed is debated in Westminster and that Welsh MPs force it on to the agenda."

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