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Analysis

Plaid Cymru backs People’s Vote with all guns blazing

by John Osmond | 06.10.2018

The first consequence of Adam Price’s leadership of Plaid Cymru became clear on Friday when he aligned his party with the forces demanding a People’s Vote on Brexit.

Under Plaid Cymru’s previous leader Leanne Wood, the party was ambiguous about calling for a vote. She appeared constrained by her Rhondda constituency that voted Leave. She was also empathetic with Jeremy Corbyn’s wing of the Labour Party which regards the EU as a capitalist club hostile to workers’ rights.

Price, a miners’ son from the Amman Valley, cut decisively through such hesitations in his first address to Plaid Cymru’s conference at Cardigan. He said Brexit would be disastrous for the Welsh economy and should be stopped by every means possible.

“We have to be honest with our people too about the destructive potential of a brittle, bitter Brexit,” he said.

Wales had waited nearly 20 years after losing the referendum in 1979 before winning another referendum and getting a National Assembly in 1997. “We cannot wait 20 years to undo the damage that is about to befall us. Brexit would see our farming industry decimated, our fishing sector eliminated, and our manufacturing base eviscerated.”

Price said Wales’ European vocation was about more than economics. “I’m a passionate European. I’ve got a degree in European community studies. As a Welsh person maybe I see the world differently. A small nation wants to be part of a family of nations.”

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Farming in frontline

He said farming was in the frontline. “Brexit poses the greatest existential threat of our generation to the agricultural sector as a whole and to upland farms in particular.

“Mirroring Michael Gove, the Labour Welsh Government’s response to this is proposing to take away farmers’ safety net through phasing out the Basic Payment Scheme from 2020.”

Price said that in Wales, 80% of an average farmer’s income comes from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with the likelihood that for upland farmers it was even higher. Although Wales has 4.7% of the UK’s population, it receives more than 9% of EU funds that come to the UK.

“Meanwhile our principal competitors in the EU will continue to take more than 70% of CAP support as direct payments,” Price said.

“The Scottish Government is maintaining basic payments. Northern Ireland will do so as well. Even Labour’s Shadow Defra Secretary, Sue Hayman, has announced that Labour in England would maintain basic farm payments. This is creating an uneven playing field for Wales.”

Price said that doing away with basic farm payments to farmers could do to rural communities what Margaret Thatcher did to industrial communities in Wales in the 1980s.

“We’ve heard about the Highland Clearances of Scotland,” he said. “If we are looking at family farms going out of business, then it will be the Upland Clearances of Wales.”

And he added, “We’re on the Titanic’s deck. The iceberg is looming. The UK government’s strategy, it seems, is to tell the iceberg to move.

“Those in first class have already taken to the lifeboats – David Cameron’s on a beach sunning himself somewhere, Jacob Rees-Mogg’s firm has moved to Dublin.

“But it’s the people that are left locked in the third class cabins.

“We have got to break that deadlock. We have got to give people a chance to avert a disaster for which it is they that will pay the heaviest price. Which is why we say it is time for a People’s Vote.”

Edited by Hugo Dixon

6 Responses to “Plaid Cymru backs People’s Vote with all guns blazing”

  • That’s right on the money if not a bit on the late side. Those brexiters advocating a separation no matter what the cost are not on the front line and will not suffer front line casualties. Aside from the suffering of farming families, what will happen to our countryside when there are no more local farmers? Will agri big business move in and create factory farms? Or will there just be vast, poorly maintained parkland which those on zero hour contracts will be unable to enjoy? A successful society is not one that has only a healthy financial service sector. We need diversity and time to enjoy the beautiful country we live in. Good for Adam Price, let hope other political leaders join him in his efforts to save the country.

  • Phil Winwood. You have NO way of testing that out. But what is clear is that no-one who voted for Brexit did so to be poorer. So, let’s go with Plaid’s suggestion and back a People’s Vote. If you are right, then you’ve nothing to fear from a little more democracy. If Plaid is wrong, then Remainers are put back in their box for a long time to come. Somehow, though, I don’t think that will happen, do you?

  • “80% of an average farmer’s income comes from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with the likelihood that for upland farmers it was even higher. Although Wales has 4.7% of the UK’s population, it receives more than 9% of EU funds that come to the UK.
    Yet Paul Winwood says the majority of Welsh farmers are still pro brexit?

    Can someone explain?

  • Turkeys voting for Christmas! Common sense tells us that they probably have changed their minds now they face reality.

  • “She was also empathetic with Jeremy Corbyn’s wing of the Labour Party which regards the EU as a capitalist club hostile to workers’ rights.”

    I know Leanne Wood pretty well and while she’s empathetic with Corbyn on many issues, this is not one of them. Please tell me where you got this from. What is your evidence for this? She is NOT a Lexiteer and never has been.