Arfon MP Hywel Williams has set out the reasons why he’ll be voting against Theresa May’s Brexit deal on Tuesday – five weeks after the original vote was postponed.
The Prime Minister has urged MPs to back her Brexit deal “for the country’s sake” and has warned if the deal is rejected trust in politics would suffer “catastrophic harm” if the UK did not leave the EU.
The Plaid Cymru MP, whose Arfon constituency voted 65% in favour of remaining in the EU (recent polling puts remain vote in Arfon at 71%) at the 2016 Referendum, has been leading calls for a People’s Vote on Brexit and advocating staying in the Single Market and the Customs Union, unless we can ensure staying in the EU.
Speaking ahead of the vote, Hywel Williams MP said that irrespective of other significant arguments, the devastating impact of Brexit on his Arfon constituency was reason enough to vote against what he described as a ‘ludicrous piece of self-harm’.
Hywel Williams MP said: “I believe that the deal that Mrs May has secured is infinitely worse than membership of the European Union, which to be frank would be my choice for this country.
“The government has failed to deliver and in those circumstances the proper course of action is to go back to the people and ask them what their opinion is now.
“My constituency is part of the West Wales and Valleys region. We have a low gross domestic product on a par with former communist eastern European states. As such, we receive substantial EU Cohesion Funding.
“We also benefit from other European money such as Interreg funding, for projects promoting links between Wales and the Republic of Ireland and agriculture is of course a significant part of the local economy.
“Farmers depend on EU funding for a substantial portion of their incomes, and having had regular discussions with local farmers in my constituency, they are concerned about the perennial uncertainty about what lies ahead.
“But there is much concern locally about the complete lack of detail as to the arrangements through the proposed Shared Prosperity Fund which it’s proposed will take over this EU funding, concern sharpened further by an appreciation that time is very short.
“In Arfon we have significant private sector employers headquartered in the EU 27 and Bangor University and Ysbyty Gwynedd have significant numbers of EU staff.
“Ysbyty Gwynedd, as with other parts of the NHS, has difficulty recruiting staff. It makes up for the shortfall in part by recruiting EU nationals. The future availability of such staff is an obvious concern.
“EU employees, particularly at the University, are already concerned about the current effects of Brexit and are worried by the potential future effects, both personally and in respect of their work and careers.
“Irrespective of the government’s warm words, many feel great uncertainty about their future right to reside in the UK and fear that they’ll eventually have to leave. Terming them as ‘bargaining chips’ and ‘queue jumpers’, has only added to their worry and indeed their anger.
“Wales, and Welsh universities, benefit from EU structural funds. With help of EU money, Bangor University created the Centre for Environmental Biotechnology. Such creative and ground-breaking projects are now in limbo.
“Wales is facing the loss of significant funding with some of our most vulnerable communities being worst hit, depriving our poorest communities of the funds they need.
“I do believe that public opinion on this matter has changed and soon we will see the majority of Members of Parliament follow Plaid Cymru’s call for a People’s Vote as the least damaging way out of the current mess.
“It has now become very clear that the referendum was won with a great deal of misleading and in fact untruthful propaganda.
“The Prime Minister proposes to launch us on the most profound change that the UK will have seen since the Second World War on little more than warm words and that is a path I simply cannot support.”