Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Welsh economy will be on the dinner table this Xmas

I'm not sure who exactly it was who said 'the bigger the lie the more people will believe it' - it might have been Hitler or it might have been his chief propagandist Goebbels. But whichever prominent Nazi first spoke that infamous line what it amounted to was a boast by figures associated with the far right that it was very easy to deceive the masses with very big lies. And we only have to look to two seminal political events which took place last year - Trump's victory in the US and the brexit vote in the UK - to see that this ugly boast seems to be as effective now as it was all those decades ago. Now i could probably fill up this entire post listing the lies leave campaigners told during the referendum campaign - the most prominent and obvious among them being the lie that a vote to leave the EU would mean an extra 350 million pound a week would go to the NHS.

But another significant lie occured when the likes of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage visited Wales during the campaign and stated that if there was a vote to leave the EU then the substantial EU funds Wales receives would be replaced by funds from Westminster. However courtesy of the Tory manifesto we now know this was another blatant lie. It is now clear that if the tories win the UK general election (as alas still looks likely) then Wales will have to bid for funds alongside the rest of the UK - funds that it used to get directly from the EU. And as with any bidding process of course there can be no certainty any welsh 'bid' for these funds would even be successful.

I've written previously on this blog of Wales heavy reliance on the EU for both funds and trade, and i make no apologies for likening the vote in Wales to leave the EU to 'turkey's voting for Christmas' Certainly what isn't in any doubt is that the Welsh economy is more dependent on the single market for its well being than any other part of the UK

Now with almost a year having elapsed since the vote took place the debate around the EU - driven by a hysterical anti european right wing British media - seems to have moved on from not just leaving the EU but walking away from its single market and customs union too. So in the general election currently taking place in the UK neither of the two largest parties - conservative and labour - will keep the UK in the single market or the customs union. Yes Labour has spoken of wanting access to the single market 'on the best possible terms' but unless you retain membership of the single market and the customs union it's difficult to see what such a promise would mean in practice? EU negotiators have made clear that if the UK wants to retain its current tariff free access to the single market it will have to accept the free movement of people but Labour has already ruled this out. So the current tariff free access companies and industries enjoy with EU member states will be off the agenda.

And what all this means in practice is that we are in the middle of a UK general election in which the two parties who have any chance of winning the election have a position on the EU which is even more exteme than many in the leave campaign held during last year's referendum (remember people like the aforementioned Johnson and Farage told us during the campaign that even if the UK left the EU it could still enjoy Norway's status and be a member of the EEA).

If youre someone who cares about Wales and the health of the Welsh economy then it cannot be emphasied often enough that the UK leaving the single market will be disastrous for Wales. 200,000 jobs in Wales are reliant on the single market and two thirds of all welsh exports are to the single market area. Particularly hard hit will be agriculture, still a very important industry in wales. For example a massive 92 percent of welsh beef and lamb exports are to the EU single market. So it really is no exaggeration to describe the EU single market as a lifeline for the Welsh economy. And as much as i want to see her majesty Theresa May and the party of the British ruling class defeated on June 8th it still has to be said that we face a state of affairs that whether its Theresa May or Jezza in number 10 next month Wales is set to lose that economic lifeline that is single market.

In the long term then it seems clear that the only hope for Wales future economic prospects is to follow Scotland in leaving the very unequal 'union' that is the UK and join the European Union.

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