Chapter 9

Wales and the world

Wales currently has little influence on global affairs. On the world stage, the Westminster government speaks for the whole of the UK. Because England makes up 84 per cent of the UK’s population, it is the needs of England that drive our negotiations with other countries. We have seen this already during the Brexit negotiations: in January 2017 it was revealed that the British government considers the steel industry a low priority in future trade talks. It doesn’t matter to England, so it’s sent to the back of the queue.

Wales and Brexit

Whatever your view on the EU, independence is the best way of guaranteeing Wales’ future post-Brexit. If we have to negotiate new trade deals, then these deals need to be ones that favour Wales. The British government can’t be trusted to put the Welsh economy first. Their priority is to protect banking and financial services, based in the south-east of England. Welsh industries won’t be anywhere near the top of London’s list when it comes to trade talks.

An independent Wales would be able to do its own deals, meaning that it could fight for a fair settlement on the parts of the economy that matter to us.

We could follow the example of Switzerland or Norway and pay only a membership fee to access the single market (either within or outside the European Free Trade Association). We could also negotiate our own free trade agreement with the EU. An independent Wales could hold a referendum on EU membership if needed, and depending on the result, could apply to rejoin. If the result was different to 2016, we could apply to rejoin, applying via Article 49 of the Lisbon Treaty. The process wouldn’t be an easy one, but the fact remains that an independent Wales would make its own decisions on its place in the world.

Whichever way you voted in the EU referendum, the fact of the matter is that Welsh interests would be best served by having Welsh negotiators at the global table, arguing Wales’ case. Recent events have shown us, perhaps more clearly than ever, that rather than being “stronger together” in the UK, Wales’ voice is lost entirely when it comes to negotiating the relationship with the EU and other countries.

 

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