Jonathan Edwards writes his weekly column for the Carmarthenshire Herald.
One of the first demands Plaid Cymru made following the EU Referendum result was the creation of a specific UK Government Department to undertake the gargantuan task of undertaking the forthcoming exit negotiations. The previous Prime Minister’s intention was to create a unit within 10 Downing Street. One of the reasons I strongly championed the creation of a Department was that it would mean the creation of a Select Committee in the House of Commons to scrutinise the work of the Government.
I am deeply honoured and humbled therefore to be selected to serve on the so called ‘Brexit Select Committee’. I will be the only Welsh member on the Committee. England has 15 members as neither the Tories nor Labour nominated one of their Welsh based MPs to join the committee. Scotland will have 3 representatives and Northern Ireland 2.
This will be the biggest and most important job of my political career to date, because we are faced with a real danger that the UK Government is talking itself into a reckless hard Brexit.
There are four main areas of major interest to Wales in the Brexit process. Firstly the potentially disproportionate impact on the Welsh economy due to our healthy trade balance. Wales is an exporting nation and clearly the more barriers to trade via a hard Brexit the greater the potential economic damage.
Secondly, the various European funding and financing schemes which will be lost depending on the type of Brexit preferred by the UK Government. We need urgent assurances from the UK Government that these sources of support will be continued post Exit, in particular structural funding to boost economic growth as the UK Government currently has no regional economic policy based on reducing geographical wealth inequalities within the British State and agricultural support.
Thirdly, the role the Welsh Government and the National Assembly for Wales will have in the Brexit negotiations. It appears that the UK Government intends making decisions unilaterally, with no formal decision making procedures for our national democratic institutions.
Lastly, if the UK determines on a regrettable future outside the single market this could lead to competencies returning from Brussels. It would be a disgrace if these powers were swallowed up by Westminster and not handed to Wales. Our inferior constitutional settlement may leave Wales once again in a far weaker position than Scotland and Northern Ireland.