MP Jonathan Edwards reflects on the House of Commons vote to give the UK Government a blank cheque for its unpublished Brexit plan.
The agreement reached between Labour and the Tories in Parliament this week to support each other’s amendments on Brexit stinks of yet another Westminster stitch-up.
Our role as Parliamentarians is to scrutinise what the Government brings forward. In supporting the Tory amendment, agreeing to trigger Article 50 regardless of the content of the Government’s plan, the Labour Party neglected its duty as the so-called ‘official opposition’.
The Labour Party rightly demanded that the Government publishes a plan before Article 50 is triggered, but at the same time they gave away their unconditional support before they or any of us had even seen that plan, making their own demands completely meaningless and giving up any negotiating capital the party had.
It would have been irresponsible of me to neglect my duties as an MP to support something I hadn’t seen. It may well be that once the plan is published, I and my Plaid Cymru colleagues will support it, but to commit to supporting a vacuous statement of a “red, white and blue Brexit” would be deeply irresponsible.
What we need are assurances that our businesses won’t face additional costs; that exports to our key trading partners will remain tariff-free; and ordinary people won’t face cuts to their wages – those are real tangible economic assurances, not meaningless identity politics.
It is incumbent upon all elected politicians to ensure the best possible deal for the people we represent, in the case of leaving the EU, we need to achieve the best possible deal for Wales.
I and my Plaid Cymru colleagues have been consistent and united in our calls to maintain our membership of the Single Market as the best Brexit option for Wales. Firstly, because of the wide-reaching benefits being a Single Market and Customs Union member will have for trade in Wales, especially when we consider Wales had a £5billion surplus in goods trade, and secondly, because it will enable Wales to qualify for research and innovation funding.
Perhaps more important than any possible vote on triggering Article 50 is what happens afterwards – the negotiations themselves. At a time when the public narrative is driven by the notion of ‘taking back control’, it is essential that not only the UK Parliament, but the national parliaments of the UK have a say, including the National Assembly for Wales.
The vote in Parliament was not about stopping the will of the people. How could it have been when there is a Supreme Court case being heard right now to determine whether MPs will even get a vote on triggering Article 50 and formally beginning that Brexit process?
I am a democrat and respect the referendum result. But I am not prepared to give the UK Government a blank cheque and free ride to do whatever it wants without any information on how residents of Carmarthenshire and Wales be will affected.