Jonathan: EU Referendum - My initial thoughts

Jonathan Edwards MP outlines his initial thoughts on the EU Referendum result in this week's Carmarthen Journal.


The result of the European Union Referendum was a great personal disappointment to me‎. Welsh economic interests are best served as a full part of the European Union due to our export-driven economy. However, I am a democrat and I accept the result.

Carmarthenshire voted Leave, although sampling of boxes at the count indicate that my own constituency of Carmarthen East and Dinefwr voted Remain. My overriding priority now will be to protect the interests of Carmarthenshire and Wales in the storm that has been unleashed.

The Remain campaign, led by the Prime Minister was shambolic. ‎Early in the campaign I warned that reliance on so called 'project fear' tactics would backfire. I also warned repeatedly that the Remain campaign had to offer a non-status quo option for disadvantaged areas. David Cameron is an effective political tactician, but he is not as strategically astute. The referendum pledge was aimed at keeping his party united over Europe, whilst out flanking UKIP. He never thought through what would happen if the referendum was lost. History will definitely not be kind to the great political chancer whose luck run out on the biggest question of all.

Carmarthenshire and Wales now needs bold political leadership, and I wanted to share with you my immediate thoughts.

It is of vital importance that as a part of the Brexit negotiations Wales secures European Economic ‎Area (EEA) status. My colleague, Adam Price, unearthed statistics which indicate that Wales will lose around 10% of its economic value if we lose access to the single market. As an export nation, Wales will be hit the hardest of all the component parts of the British state.

Article 50, which initiates the Brexit negotiations, should be enacted immediately. The fact that the Leave campaign now say that they have no plan is no excuse to dither. Political ‎uncertainty is economically toxic. We need to get on with matters.

The British state cannot continue in its current format. My immediate priority will be to argue the case for a union of equal nations. Scotland will be independent within two years. The people of Wales will have to decide if they want to be a western region of England or a proper political nation. I choose the latter.

If the terms of the renegotiation are so obviously against the interests of Wales, in particular a non-EEA settlement, I will campaign for a ratification referendum so the people can have a say on what the politicians have delivered on their behalf.

This is the greatest political challenge Wales has faced in modern history‎. I can assure you that I and my party are ready to meet the formidable challenge that now faces us.

Never before has our country needed its people to join together to fight for our common future. I ask you to join my party and me in that mission.

Jonathan Edwards MP

Showing 5 reactions

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  • John Ellis
    commented 2016-07-12 11:19:41 +0100
    I would add a further comment to the one I made below. I believe it is very important that all MPs are aware of the constitutional position and the legalities surrounding leaving the EU. To that end I point out this link, signed by over 1000 independent barristers:
  • Angela Fillmore
    commented 2016-07-05 18:02:20 +0100
    Thank you, Jonathan.
    As regards Article 50, I feel we are caught between a rock and a hard place. While we delay, the political insecurity is, as you say, economically toxic. But if we invoke it immediately we might miss an opportunity to mitigate the effects of the result of the referendum.
    This was a far from decisive vote; 48.1% of us, in the UK as a whole, rejected the appeal to isolate ourselves from Europe, despite its imperfections.
    The economic repercussions alone, will rebound on many who voted Leave. The least well off in our society, many of whom understandably feel they have no voice and who used the vote to protest, will probably have to pay more for basics, such as food, in the future.
    The cynical lies of the Leave campaign were exposed immediately after the result – lies that were defended with such passion during the campaign.
    This will have adverse effects on our democracy. Many do not vote because they assume all politicians lie; this time many were persuaded by the lies of those leading the campaign to Leave. How do many of them feel now? Has the mendacity of the Leave politicians helped our electorate regain faith in our politicians?
    PS I am over 65; not all of us betrayed the young!
  • Pobol Bach
    commented 2016-07-02 16:51:19 +0100
    I was born a citizen of the European Union so why does a person 65 years old I’ve never met before have the right to take that away from me?

    I’m Welsh, British and a citizen of the European Union, or at least I was until last Friday morning when the result of the referendum came through. I’m only 16 years old so I wasn’t allowed to vote. I was denied the right to have a say on a decision that will affect the rest of my life. But a generation of over 65’s who have had all of the economic and security benefits that the EU has given us over the last forty years apparently voted in their masses to leave the EU.

    Unlike 16 and 17 year old’s in Scotland two years ago we did not have the right to a say in this referendum. A referendum that was ran on lies and fear by politicians that had their own self interests at heart. The Leave campaign said that should we leave the EU the economy would not suffer, we would still have access to the single market and that the £350 million pounds we send to Europe every week would be invested back in the NHS. Well all of these have turned out to be lies.

    The stock market crashed on Friday after the result. £700 billion pounds was wiped off UK company values, the pound hit a 38 year low and the companies such as HSBC and Easy Jet have already said that they would take their offices and work out of the UK.

    All 27 of the other EU leaders have said that there will be no access to the single market without freedom of movement of people. They won’t even negotiate on what our new deal will be until we have withdrawn from the EU. So we will have to go to the back of the queue and accept World Trade Oganisation trade tariffs in the mean time.

    This week saw Nathan Gill deny that they had ever said that the NHS will get the money that is currently sent to the EU, even though he himself pointed to that same promise written in 6 feet high letters on the Leave campaign bus!

    To me being part of the EU means three things, a Stronger Economy, Safer Security and Opportunity to All.

    Being part of the largest single market of 500 million people offers a huge trading advantage over the rest of the world. It’s a market on our doorsteps that has no barriers. For those who say we can now trade with the rest of the world I say we could always trade with the rest of the world. But if you can’t build a successful business with a market on your doorstep what hope do you have trading with customers on the other side of the world!

    We have had over 70 years of peace in Western Europe. A peace built on our membership of the EU. This week I saw a TV interview of a woman in the north of England who had voted Leave. She was asked if she regretted her decision. She said No! She said that Britain had ‘won two World Wars and can now be a great country again’. All I could think was if war broke out tomorrow would she volunteer to go to the front line or would she expect my generation to go and fight on her behalf! Yesterday was the 100 year anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. My school took us to Thiepval and I saw the thousands of names of the lost soldiers on the monument there. They were all of young men little older than me. Wars are fought by my generation so I should have more right than most on matters that lead us closer to conflict.

    Finally opportunity, I want to study and work in both the UK and Europe. I want to have the same opportunities as the generation before me who traveled and worked in Europe and who benefited from that great experience. Benefits that can be brought back to Wales for everyone to gain from.

    I am angry that the benefits that generations before mine have enjoyed and taken for granted will be denied to me. I am furious that our politicians and leaders lied to us. I cannot believe that the voice of the 16 million voters who voted Remain are now being ignored and that those who did not tell the truth have been allowed to benefit from their actions. I’m also angry that even the Remain politicians are accepting this decision even though some of the electorate who voted Leave are themselves saying that they were misled!

    In a little over a year’s time I will be 18. On my birthday I will register to vote with my local authority. I have learnt from the events of the last 10 days that what we have has to be defended and I will vote at every election I am entitled to do so. Heaven help the next politician that lies to me or tries to take away something I consider to be a fundamental right or freedom!
  • vivienne kincaid
    commented 2016-06-30 12:49:08 +0100
    I was so sad that Wales voted to exit. The new developments within both the Labout and Conservative parties are showing the UK is in complete chaos. I almost dispair! Regarding invoking Article 50 please tell me I am wong in that once this is done the UK will not have any access to discussions about the leaving terms or process and that it will have to be completed in two years… I strongly feel this whole referendum was rushed and ordinary people did not have honest and truthful information on what the implications of leaving would mean. Daily the likes of the IMF and Bank of England were rubbished as were the statements from Europe – no free trade without free movement – and America – the UK will have to wait in the queue to make deals, etc., were rubbished by people who the population believed in and trusted. From what I have learned a referendum is an expression of the wish of the people and that it is only through a vote in the House of commons, and the consent of the Queen, that this can be ratified… maybe your efforts would be best served to help ensure this vote does not take place… In the interests of democracy perhaps a second referendum could be held in the future
    when the full facts of leaving or staying are in the public domain and the governance of all parts of the UK are stable.
  • John Ellis
    commented 2016-06-29 19:53:18 +0100
    I think that the introduction of the prospects of seeking independence jumps the gun: the priority is to be as close to Europe as possible. After WW1 we stood apart from Europe and were challenged at a disadvantage when it came to war; after WWII. despite prevarication by the UK in the wake of victory, and notwithstanding Churchill’s desire to tie the continent together after the war, we did eventually join the EEC (probably too late to be the major player) and, as one might expect for a work in progress, the going has not always been easy. It strikes me that this sudden referendum vote to leave the EU is a mistake of geo-strategic proportions in all areas from continental integrity to business to social. Although military defence is provided by NATO, we should all acknowledge that it is unity, cooperation and constant dialogue amongst the countries of Europe that provides the right environment for peace. The prospect of our departure has already opened signs of ugly behaviour against all those who are different, whether from the EU or further afield and left our nation virtually rudderless. Our trade is hit and, for certain, no other country in the world owes us any favours when it comes to agreeing deals. The best way ahead is to use Parliament to quickly follow up on the referendum with a constitutional check on what exactly is intended by the people of the UK (some areas were for remain, others for leaving) given that a sizeable proportion were voting against their economic and social conditions without differentiating between Westminster, the EU or globalization. Some have openly regretted their decision. While I would prefer to see a voluntary return to staying in the EU the whole country must agree on the way ahead through the Parliamentary process and that may or may not entail a General Election. Wales is undoubtedly going to suffer economically from aerospace to farming so it is in its interests to work together with other parts of the UK to ensure that we have as strong a voice in EU decision-making as possible. I agree with Mr Edwards that nations should be equal but he should realize that nationalism can cut both ways and we need stability in the relationship with the EU before we even begin to think about fragmenting the UK.

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