The announcement that the meaningful vote on the UK Government’s Withdrawal Agreement has now been abandoned demonstrates an utter weakness and incompetency. Knowing full well that the vote would be lost the UK Government has denied Parliament its agreed right to vote.
We are now only told that it has been deferred. When pressed we are not given a new date and according the the House of Commons Clerks this could be as late as the 28 March 2019 – the day before we are set to leave the EU.
I got a chance to point out to the Prime Minister that we are in this sorry situation because of her own red lines on the European Court of Justice and a Customs Union. All of these red lines have made it impossible to get an agreement that protects the security of Northern Ireland, the links between the nations in our union and future prosperity. This Government’s determination to ride roughshod over Parliament is deeply concerning.
I got my opportunity to respond to this year’s Budget this week. In my speech I addressed my deep concerns about the continued austerity under the UK Government and their utter failure to support the people and businesses of North Wales.
It is clear that this was a Budget that included more harm than help for people in work. It continued to cut away at our police, justice and international trade budgets and did nothing of value to unpick the hurt inflicted by Universal Credit cuts.
There are a number of businesses in Delyn who will have to agree to trade deals next March for the years following 2019. They have had no assurances from the Government on what the future tariff situation will be once we leave the EU.
Without these assurances dairy farmers, for example, will struggle to continue to trade to the USA. We need the Government to give a detailed plan on how the UK will trade following Brexit. We still do not know if people in Delyn will be able to sell their products to mainland Europe after March 2019. This makes planning for the future near on impossible.
The Secretary of State replied by referring to previous figures – figures which are positive because of the current arrangements and not due to the Government’s actions. Rest assured I will continue to press on the future trading relationships we have throughout the world and will not settle for anything other than a deal that secures the future of our businesses and therefore jobs.
Following the news on Monday that PSA, the French company which owns Peugeot and Citroen, had agreed a deal with General Motors for the rights to Vauxhall and Opel, an Urgent Question was requested by Justin Madders MP regarding the future of the UK plants.
As you know I have also written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, but I wanted to press home the importance of the Ellesmere Port plant for North East Wales. Many people work at the plant, but more than that many businesses form part of the supply chain for the plant. Meaning that many hundreds of jobs are linked, both directly and indirectly, with the success of Ellesmere Port.
I asked the Minister a two-part question. First, would he promise to work closely with the Welsh Assembly Government in securing a long and healthy future for Ellesmere Port. Second, would he promise the House that our car manufacturing industry will retain tariff free access to the Single Market so that we can sell our cars to Europe without barriers.
The Minister answered only one of my questions. He promised to work closely with the Welsh Assembly Government. But it was glaringly obvious that he did not want to answer the question about tariff free access. I believe it is vitally important for the country as a whole, if not certain sectors of our economy, to retain access to the Single Market. It means that there are less barriers to trade, which mean businesses have more money for jobs. Any barrier to trade will make us poorer.
I was disappointed with the Secretary of States answer, but I will continue to press, along with my colleague Justin Madders MP, for the future of our local economy.