Should we stay or should we go? Leading North Wales politicians set out the case for Brexit or remain ahead of the EU vote
With less than two weeks to go before the EU referendum leading Welsh voices in the debate have set out their case to persuade North Wales to stay or leave.
Leading campaigner for Vote Leave Cymru Clwyd West MP David Jones has put forward six reasons why the region would be better off in the event of a Brexit.
Meanwhile Lord Dafydd Wigley, chair of Wales Stronger in Europe, argues remaining in the 28-member union is vital for the region on June 23.
Here is what they have to say to persuade you to vote to stay or leave.
Argued by former Welsh Secretary MP David Jones
Clwyd West MP David Jones
The EU is expensive. It costs us £19.1 billion a year to be a member. We get some of that back by rebate, and some by repayment (but only if we spend it the way Brussels tells us).
However, it still costs us around £10 billion net. We would be far better off if we kept the £19.1 billion and spent it the way we want to.
By the way, don’t believe the line that “Wales does well out of EU money”.
It is our own money, top-sliced before it is returned to us. We would have much more to spend on priorities such as the NHS if we were outside the EU.
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The EU is failing economically. The euro is a weak currency and vulnerable to more instability in the near future. The continental economies are plagued with high levels of unemployment, particularly youth unemployment. Our young people will have a better future in an independent Britain.
Outside the EU, we will be able to strike new trade deals with dynamic economies such as China, India and the United States. We can’t do so now because we have to negotiate through the EU, a process that moves extremely slowly. We will continue to trade with EU countries, as members of the European Free Trade Association.
The EU is addicted to regulation, which imposes heavy burdens on all businesses, even those that do not export to the EU. Outside the EU, we will be able to regulate more sensibly and at less cost to businesses.
We can’t control immigration so long as we are within the EU. Virtually any EU citizen ostensibly looking for work can currently settle in the UK. That pushes up unemployment in our own population, puts downward pressure on wages, and makes housing less affordable. We need some immigration, but also need to control who comes in.
Most importantly, the UK will be a democracy again when we leave the EU. At present, all EU legislation is initiated by unelected commissioners who are not accountable to us. We can’t vote them out if they don’t perform satisfactorily.
After 23 June, if we vote Leave, Britain will be a freer, more prosperous and more democratic country. Isn’t that the sort of country you want for your children and grandchildren?
Argued by Lord Dafydd Wigley
Wales Stronger in Europe chairman Lord Dafydd Wigley
Wales benefits perhaps more from our EU membership than any other part of the UK – we get back £245 million more than we give, and that’s before you consider the importance of the single market, which is worth £5 billion to our businesses and supports 200,000 jobs.
On top of this, European laws support hard-won rights for workers and employees.
These include paid holidays, maternity leave and paternity leave.
Our place in Europe is vital to Wales’ future prospects – the single market is a cornerstone of our economy, while investment from the EU supports jobs and opportunities.
It also ensures fair treatment for workers, guarding against potential efforts by domestic governments which might look to reduce or restrict certain privileges.
Membership of the European Union offers guarantees of investment, trade and protection for those in society who need it most. Leaving offers none of this – all offers is economic uncertainty and dubious promises.”
Despite the relatively low level of migration in Wales – less than 3% of our population comes from other EU countries – many voters will have justified concerns, and they will have heard claims from Vote Leave that leaving Europe would give us more control of our borders. This is simply not true.
Britain is not part of Europe’s border-free Schengen Zone – and our current deal means we will not be joining it. We have also been able to push border controls across the Channel into France. This situation would be unlikely to continue in the event of a leave vote.
New FUW managing director Alan Davies flagged up the potential threat to Welsh farming from the EU referendum
Some campaigners have claimed a points-based system would reduce the number of people coming to live in the UK, holding up Australia as an example of what our future could look like. This neglects the fact Australia has a higher per-head migrant population than the UK.
European funding has helped create more than 400 jobs in North Wales and major employers in the region – including Airbus and Siemens have come out to strongly support a vote to Remain. Our place in Europe is a key factor in their business models, leaving could put that at risk.
Welsh beef and lamb – as well as Halon Mon Sea Salt – enjoy protected status under European law, and with more than 90% of our lamb being sold to nations in the single market, it is vital for Welsh farmers that we maintain access to those nations.
It is only a vote to Remain that will maintain and magnify these benefits. It is only a vote to Remain that will help Wales build the bright future it deserves.