Thursday, 9 February 2017

A ray of light amid the gloom

Well they say every cloud has a silver lining and as disastrous as the vote to leave the EU may prove to be for many parts of the UK - my home country Wales included - one welcome consequence of Brexit is the threat it may pose to the proposed Wylfa B nuclear reactor on Anglesey. I looked at the reasons we should be very concerned about plans for new nuclear power stations on Anglesey and at Hinkley point in an earlier post :

But on Tuesday BBC Wales reported "Plans to build a nuclear plant on Anglesey will face big challenges if the UK leaves a European nuclear cooperation institution due to Brexit, according to an expert. Prof Dr Glyn O. Phillips said leaving Euratom would make it difficult to get staff for projects like Wylfa Newydd. The UK will leave the body if the bill to trigger Article 50 to start the process of leaving the EU is approved. Prof Phillips, winner of international science awards, said that withdrawal from Euratom "will be destructive to any nuclear work in the UK" as European resources have been centralised at Cern in Geneva, Switzerland."

"They are trying to build a centre now in Manchester, to bring some kind of training but, in the end, all our researchers go back and forth to Cern," he said in an interview with BBC Cymru Fyw."If that link is cut and we can't keep the connection, then I can't see how we could ever produce the workforce that is vital to maintain the new power stations that they are talking about."He said training is "crucially important" to staff the next generation of plants, and that doing so is dependent on "working with other people"."I don't see cutting ourselves off through Brexit bringing any new jobs. It just means that you cannot use other people's resources."

Now as well as highlighting the problems brexit might pose for Wylfa B Prof Williams comments are also important for another reason in that if the proposed nuclear reactor is so dependent on a workforce from EU member states to function it raises serious doubts made by backers of nuclear power that Wylfa B would bring a 'jobs bonanza to the area'. Indeed it's looking increasingly as if the promises of local jobs in north wales made by the UK energy department and Wylfa B's parent company Hitachi are about as genuine as the promises made by the leave campaign during the EU referendum. Hitachi of course also gave assurances about radiation levels at their Fukushima designed plant not being dangerous

On Saturday 11 March 2017 a conference entitled 'Green Nuclear-Free Wales, A United Welsh Front against Nuclear Power' will be taking place at the National Library, Aberystwyth. Further details can be found here

And sticking with the theme of bogus promises i notice that as i type this piece the Bill to invoke Article 50 has passed through the Westminister Parliament without a single amendment being accepted by the May government. Now after the referendum result and the resignation of David Cameron Theresa May and her new foreign secretary (boris johnson) and her new brexit secretary (david davis) made great play of saying they would protect the rights of EU nationals in the UK and incorporate EU directives on workers rights and environmental protection measures into british law following Brexit. Yet this week when they've had the opportunity to make such promises concrete they have ensured tory MPs have voted down all such amendments guaranteeing these things.

Course the likes of Theresa May, Boris Johnson and David Davis will still say these promises will be implemented after brexit, but given they ensured these amendments were voted down on the day they disgracefully dumped the 'Dubs scheme' i think we are entitled to be highly skeptical of these promises being fullfilled

And without any of these amendments being successful what we have in essence been left with is a hard brexit. A Brexit which takes us out of the single market and the customs union. A brexit which doesn't guarantee the rights of a single EU national living in the UK. A Brexit which offers no guarantee that EU directed employment rights and measures to protect the environment or even EU food standards will be incorporated into British law once the UK has departed the EU.

And despite the claims of the hard right now firmly in charge of the British Tory government there is simply no evidence to support their insistence that a rock hard brexit is what 17 and a half million people voted for on June 23rd. The only people advocating this sort of brexit during the referendum campaign were the Kippers and neo fascist groups like Britain First.The names of the 122 MPs who took a stand against this hardest possible of Brexits can be found here

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