As the last Direct Rule Minister for Northern Ireland when the power sharing agreement collapsed I have long worried about the impacts of a no deal Brexit upon the peace process. A no deal will mean the construction of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to comply with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules – which we will have no control of as this the WTO has no elections and our parliament has no control over its direction of travel.
What complicates matters even more is that Northern Ireland has been without a Legislative Assembly for over two years and shows no signs of changing. Without ministers and Members of the Legislative Assembly to take decisions locally. This means that UK ministers will have to step in to take the hourly decisions which will be needed following a no deal Brexit – which I do not want to see.
I asked the Secretary of State what action he is taking to avert this monumental mess. His answer left a lot to be desired.
As many of you will know, I voted last night to ensure that Parliament could reclaim sovereignty from a UK Government that is pushing the limits of our constitution. That vote passed and ensured that today we could vote upon a Bill to block a disastrous no deal Brexit.
One of the important industries for Delyn is farming. I have held many meetings with hill farmers in Delyn to discuss their fears about a no deal Brexit and what it will mean for their livelihoods. One of the most worrying impacts of no deal is the automatic application of 40% tariffs on sheep meat. These costs will be applied when our farmers are trying to export their world beating produce to the EU – which they can currently do tariff free. The EU is the biggest market for our lamb and no deal would lock us out of it.
That is why I asked the Secretary of State for Wales what action he will take to ensure that no tariffs are applied and no deal is averted.
Instead of giving an informed response about the costs of these tariffs on farmers the Secretary of State decided to ignore the point. Yet again Wales and Delyn is being let down by Alun Cairns MP who cares more about his job than our economy and is not speaking up for us in Government.
I will be voting for the Bill tonight to block no deal to ensure that we do not crash out. Industries, like farming and manufacturing, cannot cope on no deal grounds. It is reckless and breaks my manifesto commitment to you I made in the 2017 General Election.
Today marked the first time the new Prime Minister was tested in the Commons. Boris Johnson MP has now completed the creation of his cabinet and it is the most right wing government I have seen in over 30 years. He has appointed a Home Secretary who supports the death penalty, a Foreign Secretary who has called feminists obnoxious bigots and a Housing Minister who doesn’t believe that children should learn about LGBT+ relationships. But the one thing that unites this grisly cabinet is that they all want a no deal Brexit.
That is why I asked the new Prime Minister if, instead of bluff and bluster, he could tell the Commons what the tariffs would be on sheep meat, planes and cars in the event of no deal. I was hoping that the Prime Minister would live up to the seriousness of his new job and provide detailed answers so we could have an informed debate. Instead, the bluff and bluster returned. We were told we just needed to trust in him and believe that it will all turn out alright in the end.
This is a worrying example of a man who is more persuaded by his own ego than everyone else. When we look back at all the Prime Ministers of the past they took decisions because they thought them to be in the national interest. I fear that the only interest our new Prime Minister cares about is his own.
An urgent question was granted today on our ability to share research and provide treatments for rare diseases. I used my question to press upon the minister if we would still be part of a European wide institute designed for tackling rare diseases following a Brexit on 31 October 2019. The UK is a member of this organisation, which is backed by €1,000,000.
I’m sad to say that the minister could not guarantee we would retain our access to this vital fund and service. Instead stating that any future agreement would decide our access. I cannot see why the UK Government would want to see us lose access to this important organisation that tackles some of the most horrific diseases.