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.
It was announced this week that the Department of Transport is to cancel all the no deal contracts it had in place with ferry companies. This will cost the taxpayers £50million. This comes on top of the £33million that the Department had to settle with Eurotunnel as it did not undertake due process when drafting these, now cancelled, contracts.
I asked the Minister if she could assure us that these ferry companies wouldn’t get double bubble in the event of a no deal Brexit in October. This is because the UK Government is still adamant that this could be an outcome for Brexit – despite Parliament voting it down on multiple occasions.
The Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP, has cost the taxpayers £2.7billion whilst in Government. It is time for him to go and stop wasting our money.
Tom Enders, outgoing Chief Executive of Airbus, told us that a no deal Brexit would be catastrophic for the company and as a result would put its future in Broughton at risk.
He joins a list of other organisations – like the British Medical Association (which is made up of our doctors) and businesses (like the joint letter from all major supermarkets) – who have stated that a no deal Brexit would put our country at risk. We must listen to these experts and act upon their advice.
I asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he had met the outgoing Chief Executive and if he would act upon his advice.
I cannot stand idly by and see our jobs and local economy put at risk.