Derek Vaughan MEP

Working hard for Wales in Europe


Recent press releases

“Brexit means Brexit”. But what does that really mean?


As we face the greatest economic challenge of our lifetimes in withdrawing from the European Union, we are also likely to see the unravelling of one of the biggest lies of the Leave campaign: that the UK could retain every benefit of the Single Market whilst at the same time not fulfilling its four key freedoms of movement in goods, services, capital and people.


Much discussion has been had in Wales over recent days around how the UK should continue its relationship with the Single Market. 


Taking into account what happened in the weeks leading up to the referendum and the messages given to politicians when we spoke to voters on the doorstep, there are no easy answers. Clearly, immigration and the wish of people to “take back control”, were two of the key factors that delivered the vote to leave the EU.  Equally, unrealistic expectations were fed by Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and others who claimed we could have our cake and eat it when it came to exactly what the end game of Brexit will look like.


There are three main Single Market options on the table and it is worth exploring each one in turn.


Firstly; ”full membership” of this single market, which no country outside of the EU has, is what we have now with tariff free trade, an active role in its decision making processes and an acceptance of the free movement of people to go with it.  No other country in Europe has managed the task of securing full membership whilst simultaneously creating its own pick and mix menu of key commitments.  Cherry picking parts of the existing deal and undermining the fundamental principles of the EU in the process is unlikely to go down well in the European Parliament nor with the other 27 Member States who have to agree with this deal. 


Leading EU figures have already been crystal clear.  Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission confirmed this when he said:  "There is a clear interlink as we made clear at the very beginning between the access to the internal market and the basic principles of the internal market - namely the free movement of workers and we are sticking to that position. So I cannot see any possibility of compromising on that very issue.”


Secondly, there is what is termed as “full access” to the Single Market which could also be described as the Norway or Switzerland option whereby we could trade freely in goods (though not services) but remain unable to restrict EU migration into the UK.  The drawback, of course, is that we would be paying into the system and living by rules set by other countries and yet, not have any say on what those rules are or how the Market will operate.


Similarly, negotiating an exit deal that leaves us with something almost identical to what we had before, is not going to be popular with the 52% of the electorate who voted to leave.


This is the difficult and unedifying dead end that the UK Government finds itself in the position of having to resolve.


Finally there is simply “access” to the Single Market and this is the basic “take it or leave it” option.  Essentially, having access to the marketplace in the same way that every other country around the world does, leaving us open to the imposition of tariffs on our goods as well as other restrictions and regulatory burdens to which we would not be able to influence at all. A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) or World Trade organisation (WTO) deal would exclude services which make up 80% of our economy and probably agriculture and fisheries, putting these sectors in peril.


Politics is not just about catch phrases or sound bites, it is about finding a way to get the best for the people you serve.


I would prefer the UK to have full membership of the EU as any other deal will be a worse option but this clearly would require a second referendum.


Full access is not perfect but given the terms upon which the public made their decision, it is the most realistically achievable deal. 


Any agreement will stand or fall on its approach on EU migration which, let’s not forget is a two way street with almost as many UK citizens now residing in other Member States as EU citizens living here.  An attack on the free movement of people would also jeopardise the rights of those from the UK who have chosen to study, work or live elsewhere in the EU, again, a vital question which the UK Government has continued to avoid answering.  It is also the case that migrants from the EU to the UK pay one third more in tax than they take out in benefits and enable us to sustain key public services, including the NHS, and many sectors of our economy. The problems with the UK economy and feelings of disenchantment felt by voters is not because of immigration, it is down to austerity policy which led to insecure jobs, a lack of housing and poor services.


The pressure is on and the clock is ticking. 


Now is the time for politicians of all parties to be honest with voters. They must admit we can maintain the benefits of being part of a huge single market but that entails paying into the EU budget and accepting the rules including free movement.  Or we can leave the single market and damage our economy and peoples living standards. 


A second class Brexit deal, and perhaps, the prospect of no real deal at all, will cause great damage to the Welsh economy and our way of life.  A false step at this stage has the potential to wreak havoc on our manufacturing industries (especially steel, agriculture and automotive), discourage inward investment, damage our tax base and, with that, our ability to invest in our public services.


The UK Government and all politicians must quit the rhetoric and be honest with voters about the options.

Western Mail Opinion: “Brexit means Brexit”. But what does that really mean?"

“Brexit means Brexit”. But what does that really mean?   As we face the greatest economic challenge of our lifetimes in withdrawing from the European Union, we are also likely...

“Brexit means Brexit” has been Theresa May’s mantra over the summer.


As a slogan it is completely meaningless, we would not accept an Education Secretary saying that “teaching means teaching” or the Home Secretary saying that “policing means policing”. I have been clear about my position that there should be another vote on the final terms of the deal. But, if we are going to limit the damage of leaving the EU, then we need a clear plan and we need to be clear about what we want and how we are going to get it. Although it has become clear Brexit does not mean there will £350 million a week extra for the NHS.


Theresa May has previously said that we were not going to get an “off the shelf deal” and that we should not be talking about “the Norwegian model, or the Swiss model” but a special British deal. Well, we already had that and it was rejected by the voting public. The Prime Minister needs to remember that she cannot just make demands and expect the EU to accept them all, there has to be some give and take. So actually looking at Norway and Switzerland can tell us a lot about what the EU is prepared to accept. Norway pays into the EU budget (more per head than the UK does), accepts the rules of the Single Market and allows the free movement of people.


The key choice in the negotiations will be whether the Prime Minister will be willing to keep the free movement of people (at least in principle) as the price for retaining full access to the Single Market. If she is not, then losing access to the Single Market is inevitable with all of the consequences that the Labour Party and major economic institutes have warned of.


The Centre for European Reform has pointed out that if we leave the Single Market the price of food could increase by 15% and even Vote Leave’s pet economist Patrick Minford said that the best case scenario outside of the Single Market would see Welsh manufacturing decimated. Whether we’re ready to pay these consequences is the national conversation we need to be having. One that will not be helped if the Government keeps to its refusal to keep the British Parliament properly updated on the negotiations on top of its refusal to give the representatives of the British people a say on the final deal.


The Government also needs to confirm that EU citizens who have already arrived will not be deported. They staff our NHS, pay their taxes and are less likely to use healthcare than UK citizens in the EU. The EU is not about to kick out UK citizens. Therefore, let’s be adults and get these negotiations off on the right foot by confirming that those EU citizens already here can stay. Pointless posturing won’t get us anywhere. The Prime Minister could relieve a lot of fears for families right across Wales. We can’t be saying to kids right across the country that Mum or Dad is about to be deported because some negotiation in Brussels did not quite work out. I found it deeply distasteful when Lord Pearson, a UKIP representative, suggested using EU citizens as “hostages”.


We can have a conversation about immigration without such revolting suggestions and removing that possibility would send the right signal about what Brexit actually means.

Daily Post Column

“Brexit means Brexit” has been Theresa May’s mantra over the summer.   As a slogan it is completely meaningless, we would not accept an Education Secretary saying that “teaching means...

Welsh Labour MEP, Derek Vaughan, and Ynys Mon MP Albert Owen have said that the threat of Brexit to Welsh jobs is real following an article published today by Hitachi Chairman, Hiroaki Nakanishi. Warning that the UK leaving the EU would have a “big effect on jobs”, he pointed out that at the moment the UK was “the best base for accessing the whole European market of 500m people”  but that if the UK left the European Union “the future investment case looks very different.”


Mr Nakanishi also laid out concerns that those advocating leaving “have no answer to how the UK could negotiate cost-free access to this huge market from a position outside it” and in the case of Hitachi, “we still have a European vision, and would be disadvantaged in pursuing it from the UK.”


Ynys Môn MP Albert Owen said


“The remarks by the Hitachi chairman are evidence of the negative impact Brexit would have on jobs, industry and communities across Wales and the UK.


Wylfa Newydd is the biggest proposed investment in Wales and will boost the local and national economy in terms of quality direct and indirect jobs, in the planning, construction and operation of Wylfa Newydd.


Hitachi moved its European HQ to the UK and made important investment decisions because we are currently an integral part of the single market and the UK has unrestricted access to that single market.


We have the potential to be world leaders in energy and transport because global companies such as Hitachi are willing to invest. Let’s not put that future investment at risk, and on June 23rd we can send a vote of confidence for future generations by voting Remain in the EU Referendum.”


Derek Vaughan MEP commented: “People have been asking for the facts. This is a boss of a major international company saying that they will slash investment in the UK if we leave the European Union. Welsh jobs will be on the line if we leave the European Union, this isn’t political scaremongering,


“It’s another unbiased, impartial business being honest about what the consequences would be for their company and by extension the Welsh economy. The leave crowd haven’t got a real answer to them beyond just asserting that everything will be alright on the night. They keep telling us the rest of the world will treat us better if we leave, well this is the world saying it’s a terrible idea.”


“Hitachi, who are investing in Wylfa Power Station in Anglesey and are bringing much needed employment to the area, have now joined a long line of companies with a big presence in Wales including General Electrics in the Valleys, Ford in Bridgend and Airbus in Broughton that have all said Brexit would be bad for the Welsh economy.  Even the only major economist supporting Vote Leave Patrick Minford has admitted that if we left the EU manufacturing would be “eliminated” in Wales.”


“Mr Nakanishi was absolutely right to point out that those advocating leave have no idea what comes after Brexit.  They don’t have a plan for the Welsh economy beyond empty slogans. If they did Hitachi and other businesses wouldn’t keep calling them out on it. Brexit is not a plan, it would be a suicide note for our steelmaking, automotive and other key industries.”


“190,000 jobs in Wales are connected to the Single Market.  The Leave campaign have no plan to protect Welsh jobs, no map to deliver growth and new jobs in the Welsh economy and no real idea about how to deliver on the promises they’ve made. Mr Nakanishi is right to say “… jobs will be lost. This is the cold economic reality”, I would urge people to  really look at whether Vote Leave have a plan for a post-Brexit economy that would justify ignoring the concerns of Welsh manufacturing or whether they are just playing Russian roulette with Welsh jobs and livelihoods.

Hitachi intervention proves Welsh jobs are on the line

Welsh Labour MEP, Derek Vaughan, and Ynys Mon MP Albert Owen have said that the threat of Brexit to Welsh jobs is real following an article published today by Hitachi...

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