Welsh Labour, Lib Dems and Tories unite against single market membership

Plaid Cymru claims the Welsh government has backed a 'hard Brexit'


Plaid Cymru has accused Labour of adopting a hard Brexit policy, after a Plaid motion advocating membership of the single market was defeated in the Senedd.

Tabled yesterday, the symbolic motion called on the Assembly to note ‘the importance of full membership of the European single market to the Welsh economy’. A Tory amendment instead noted the importance of ‘access to the single market’ for the Welsh economy, and was supported by Labour and Lib Dem AM Kirsty Williams.

Plaid AM Adam Price commented:

“Today Labour in Wales voted with the Tories against the Welsh national interest.

Due to the way Labour have voted, David Davis’ hard Brexit policy has now been adopted by the Welsh Government. This is a dark day for Wales as the National Assembly becomes the first parliament in these islands to vote in favour of a hard Brexit, and to yield any possible leverage in securing the best deal for Wales, thanks to Labour joining forces with the Tories.

Ever since the Brexit vote the Labour government’s position on membership of the single market has been confused at best with successive statements expressing contradictory positions. One minute Labour was in favour of full membership then just access the next, one minute they wanted free movement of people, the next minute they were calling for a moratorium on free movement.”

In June, 52.5 per cent of Welsh voters voted to leave the EU. UKIP AMs and other pro-Leave voices welcomed yesterday’s vote, claiming it shows that the government has accepted the decision of the Welsh people.

Carwyn Jones and his party have come under fire for failing to take a clear line on the Brexit vote. Yesterday, ministers admitted that a press statement issued on 24 June was altered after being sent to journalists, to remove a reference to free movement of people.

The orginal version stated that ‘it is vital that the UK negotiates to retain access to the 500m customers in the Single Market and that we retain free movement of people’. The amended version, released less than an hour later, said ‘it is vital that the UK negotiates to retain access to the 500m customers in the Single Market.’

A spokesman for the Welsh government confirmed that the draft had been altered, adding that:

“The Welsh government’s view on freedom of movement has been articulated a number of times by the first Minister and other ministers. It was clearly a big concern for many voters, and as such we regard it as something still open for debate as we develop our thinking.”

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.