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.
During International Trade Questions this week I quizzed the Secretary of State on the assurances he could give to sheep farmers in Delyn that they will still be able to trade with Europe following 29 March 2019.
As it stands we only have confusion. Over 90% of our sheep products are exported to Europe and beyond and the lack of clarity is putting one of our most important industries at risk.
The Secretary of State only provided a glib response. The Government’s Withdrawal Agreement does not give the guarantees we need for the rural economy. Indeed, it is reported that even the Secretary of State has doubts and wants their to be a free vote to allow members of the Government to vote against it. If he doesn’t have faith in his own policy I cannot see why I should.
Last week, President Donald Trump unilaterally imposed tariffs on all steel and aluminium products imported into the United States. Only one country has so far been exempt – Australia – meaning that the UK will now face a tariff on all our steel and aluminium products that we want to export to America.
I asked the Secretary of State for Trade – who places much value on the UK’s ability to strike a trade deal with the United States – if he was informed by the his counterparts in the US that these tariffs would be imposed.
Tariffs are bad for businesses, which means they are bad for jobs. We need to ensure that protectionism of this sort doesn’t spread. If this triggers a trade war we will all be worse off.