Brexit’s threat to our working-class communities

Brexit’s threat to our working-class communities

Leanne Wood

September 2018

 

This is an edited version of a speech that was set to be delivered to a rally organised by The Left Against Brexit  

 

Brexit had, and still has, very little to do with Europe.

It has everything to do with divisions in the Tory Party.  It has everything to do with people that had little left to lose kicking out at an establishment that has failed them. It has everything to do with narcissists like Boris and Farage perpetuating lies in search of self-promotion.

And yet, Wales will still face the disastrous social and economic consequences of being torn from Europe.

Brexit means Brexit, means nothing. But this is the vacuous level of debate which has left us with days to go before we leave the European Union and no semblance of a workable plan.

It is not normal behaviour to take pride in warning that your own incompetence could lead to shortages of food, medicine and energy. Over the summer, however, that is what we have seen – the Westminster Tory administration telling us that the looming prospect of a No Deal requires planning usually reserved for invasion.

The misguided nostalgia of some Brexiteers makes it seem as though the prospect of ration books and blackouts is quite alluring to them.

Austerity

Deal or no deal, billions will be wiped from the economy, jobs lost, and wages cut.

These lost jobs will not be for the Telegraph Columnists or their banker friends. Like the past decade of austerity, it will not be those that created this chaos who will shoulder the burden.

From Swansea to Prestatyn, from Cardiff to Ceredigion, working class people will pay for the establishment tantrum that is Brexit and the type of Brexit that is being pursued.

Austerity is already killing our communities and quite literally killing many of our citizens on the lowest incomes.

With billions set to be wiped of the Welsh economy, austerity is only set to be compounded by Brexit. They are inextricably linked.

Billionaire’s Brexit

We are heading for a Billionaire’s Brexit.

Rees Mogg’s hedge fund is moving to Ireland. Redwood is advising his city clients to move their money to the EU. And Farage is obtaining German passports for him and his family.

Our European exit stands to handsomely benefit those who knowingly peddle Brexit myths in pursuit of a tax-slashing future for them and their friends.

As the EU brings forward anti-tax avoidance measures, at the same time as tax cuts loom as a last-ditch attempt to retain big business, we cannot let the privileged few who will benefit from an extreme Tory Brexit lead the rest of us over a cliff edge.

The communities and families set to be most impacted by an extreme or no deal Brexit must have a right to reject it

A People’s Vote – taking a democratic decision

A People’s Vote offers a way to avoid this chaos, a way out of the Billionaire’s Brexit and catastrophic damage that will be caused if the current trajectory is completed.

‘Anti-democratic’ is the charge leveled at those of us who support a People’s Vote. How can more voting, more democracy and a greater say for people be ‘anti-democratic’?

Many people are more informed now than they were when the Brexit referendum took place. Being able to see with hindsight how the Tories have approached the negotiations, and being able to see through the Brexiteer’s lies and false claims, I’m sure people would see a ratification referendum on the final deal or a “people’s vote” in a different way to the way that the remain / leave referendum was approached.

Now that more people know that Wales will be one of the areas hardest hit by an extreme or no deal Brexit and that there is a greater understanding as to how our communities here will bear the burden, we could well see people rejecting a harmful final deal.

The Right’s Brexit Boost

Brexit has seen the drawing together of forces from the establishment right and the far right pre, during and post referendum. A motley crew of racists, Russian bots, Foreign Secretaries, fascist sympathisers, the media establishment and the far-right internet fringe have unleashed a tidal wave of hate. It has opened the flood-gates to more anger, fear and division.

The creeping rise and normalisation of far right politics was given an unprecedented boost by Brexit.

Yet still Labour continues to refuse to fight against this chaotic Brexit with everything they have. They are the block to a People’s Vote.

Hand in hand, Labour and the Tories are delivering a Brexit they know will do damage to our country and to our future economic prospects that is motivated by nothing more than political expediency.

Welsh European

I am a Welsh European.

Brexit will never rob me of my identity. It will, however, rob people of their jobs and future generations of opportunities.

Wales is a great nation. A nation, I believe, with a future in and linked with Europe.

Our working-class communities should not shoulder the costly chaos brought about by this pet project of the Tory party.

It is our obligation to show Wales, there is a better way than this.

 

Plaid Cymru Leader reiterates call for a “People’s Vote” to stop extreme Brexit driven by self-serving millionaires

Leanne Wood AM has today reiterated her calls for a ratification referendum on any final deal with the European Union, highlighting that wealthy Brexit backers are set to gain whilst working people bear the burden. Ms Wood said that the way Brexit is being implemented is being revealed as an “unmitigated disaster”, especially for Wales and that people should have the final say on a “deal or no deal”.
Ms Wood said that this was not a call for a re-run of the 2016 referendum. Plaid Cymru is a democratic party and accepts that vote, however, she said that as more risks and issues from the lack of pre and post-referendum plans are revealed, people must have an opportunity to reject or accept the way in which we leave. Emphasising that central to democracy is the right for people to change their mind, Ms Wood argued that a rejection could begin a new process which offers a way back towards membership of the EU.
Ms Wood went on to highlight that many of the most vocal Brexit supporters are wealthy advocates of low-tax policies, who look likely to benefit from Brexit. With the UK leaving before the implementation of new EU tax avoidance rules and the potential of tax cuts being introduced in the UK post-Brexit, the most wealthy could be in line for a Brexit windfall, whilst the economy as a whole and working people take a further hit with even more austerity. “The communities and families Brexit will damage most” must have a right to have their say on the final Brexit deal, Ms Wood said.
The Plaid Cymru Leader has been a vocal supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, signing their open letter calling for a referendum on the final deal earlier in the year.
Reaffirming her call for a People’s Vote, Leanne Wood said:
“Let’s just say it how it is. Brexit is bad news for working people, its bad news for business. We know it’s impact on Wales will be worse than almost anywhere else.
“The closer we get to our departure from the EU, the more it is being revealed as an unmitigated disaster. Even the Westminster Government now admits medicines, bank accounts and even food supplies are at risk in a No Deal scenario.
“Even if a deal is struck, there is little to be optimistic about. Billions will be wiped off our economy and opportunities for future generations lost due to the Extreme Brexit being perused by Westminster.
“Put simply, deal or no deal, Wales will be poorer as a result of our exit from the EU. We must have the right to reject a deal that will be harmful to our economy and have a path back into the EU if people in that referendum reject the deal on offer or if they have changed their minds since 2016.
“The costs of an extreme Brexit will not fall on those Leave leaders and donors who are millionaires, but on the shoulders of working people. It stands to handsomely benefit those who knowingly peddle Brexit myths in pursuit of a tax-slashing future for them and their friends. As the EU brings forward anti-tax avoidance measures, at the same time as tax cuts loom as a last ditch attempt to retain big business in the UK, we cannot
let the privileged few who will benefit from an extreme Tory Brexit lead the rest of us of a cliff edge without any further say on the matter.
“The communities and families an extreme or no deal Brexit will damage most must have a right to reject it.”

“compromise position” must be changed says Plaid Leader

Leanne Wood

Wood pledges to review Plaid’s nuclear power stance

Leanne Wood has confirmed that the Party of Wales would look for alternatives to nuclear power when her leadership is renewed in September.

The move comes after Japanese news reports indicate a key investor is pulling out of the financially blighted Wylfa B project on Ynys Môn. The Plaid Cymru Leader warned it was “dangerous” for future economic aspirations in the area to be dependent on a project that “requires ever-growing pledges of Westminster government funding” and the changing whims of large global corporations. Last week, Leanne Wood attended a public campaign meeting at Porthaethwy, Ynys Môn, where she stated that Plaid Cymru policy had always been anti-nuclear, but that concerns over local jobs had led the party to adopt a “compromise position”. She said that this needed to change, announcing that the party would hold a “full review of our energy policies” if she is re-elected.

She said that Plaid Cymru’s position no longer reflected the reality on the ground in the area, citing concerns over the estimated 3,000 rental housing units that will be required – according to Horizon’s own estimates – for the building phase of the Wylfa Newydd project.

Leanne Wood said:

“Nuclear power has been a difficult issue for Plaid Cymru. We are opposed to nuclear power but have been forced to weigh concerns against the need to attract well-paid jobs to our rural areas. These concerns have created a compromise position of not opposing the replacement of existing nuclear plants. This has pitched people with concerns about the language and environment against each other.

 “Even if the Wylfa B project does manage to get the financial backing it needs – which looks more unlikely by the day – there is growing concern from Ynys Môn residents that the construction phase will require an influx of workers from outside. Intolerable strain will be put on local infrastructure, housing and services. It is impossible to see how the ‘jobs for local people’ argument is still valid in 2018.

 “Ynys Môn is home to some very exciting renewable energy schemes. Wales as a whole has the potential to be a world-leader in developing safe and clean new energy technologies. I want to make the most of our engineering talents and university research facilities to allow these innovative schemes to blossom and create sustainable, long-term work for our communities.

“If re-elected leader, I will carry out a full review of our energy policies and commission a study into the possible negative effects nuclear project could have on the future of housing, the local economy and the Welsh language in Ynys Mon and also in neighbouring Gwynedd.

 “The canning of the Tidal Lagoon by Westminster, whilst they push on with Wylfa at seemingly any cost, epitomises Wales’s problem. A free Wales’s future is not based on nuclear. We must have control over our own natural resources so that we can have a Green future, instead of being entangled in Westminster’s white elephants.” 

Plaid Cymru Leader sets out vision to protect Welsh farming for future generations

Leanne Wood calls for a Welsh Agricultural Land Bank

Ahead of a visit to Sioe Môn, the agricultural show in Anglesey, Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood has called for a Welsh Agricultural Land Bank to protect farmers and rural communities for future generations.

Ms Wood has called for a new agricultural financing system that would provide zero and low interest mortgages and loans to both farms that are struggling and new entrants into agriculture.

As part of the plan, the Plaid Cymru Leader, has also proposed mechanisms that would allow tenant farmers to be able to buy their farms on an affordable basis, and for the Land Bank to buy up new marketed farms to rent them out at low rates to the next generation of farmers.

Building on Plaid Cymru’s policy to introduce an Agricultural Basic Income, Ms Wood said that this package of policies would create a “national shield to protect our small and medium sized farms”. 

“With a potential no deal Brexit looming and the future of agricultural subsidies under threat we must act to ensure a vibrant future for Welsh farms.

 “Reports are already becoming commonplace that the future of the Welsh family farm is under threat and may even disappear within the next decade. I fear large companies and hedge funds would take the opportunity to buy up swathes of Welsh agricultural land.

 “This would mean a huge transfer of one of our most valuable natural resources from the hands of many people in our communities to the hands of a small number of very wealthy investors who have neither the health of rural businesses or our culture at their heart.

 “The creation of a Welsh Agricultural Land Bank would provide zero and low interest mortgages and loans to both farms that are struggling and new entrants into agriculture.

 “The Bank would also assist tenant farmers wanting to buy their farms on an affordable basis, alongside retaining a portfolio of farms to rent out at low rates to new entrants into the farming sector. We would be protecting Welsh farming for future generations.

 “The Welsh Land Bank sits alongside Plaid Cymru’s proposals to provide a basic income to farmers, as a more sustainable future following our exit from the Common Agricultural Policy and the end of the current subsidy regime.

 “Together, these policies would enable us to create a national shield to protect our small and medium sized farms for future generations.”

Housing for local people must be “a right rather than a privilege”

Leanne Wood

“Revolution in housing” needed to stop next generation being priced out of rural communities

Leanne Wood has called for a “revolution in housing” and promised that as First Minister she would introduce measures to stop local people being priced out of rural communities.

The package includes proposals for councils to directly address local housing demand on a needs basis and new progressive tax measures.

The aim of the comprehensive housing plan is to allow councils to eliminate social housing waiting lists within a decade and enable Wales to become a world leader in the emerging industry of sustainable, low-impact and eco-friendly housing. The proposals include new measures for councils to establish non-permanent housing that could be taken down or moved to other locations as demand changes over time.

The Plaid Cymru Leader also called for the Welsh Parliament to have powers over inheritance tax so that a system resembling National Insurance could be introduced where the amount paid would be linked to the amount of time an individual has spent living and working in Wales before retirement. The new system would be weighted in favour of people who have actively contributed to the local economy.

On launching the policy proposals, Leanne Wood said:

“Successive Westminster and Welsh governments have failed to build sufficient new housing and the result is an economy that is propped up by artificially high house prices. Ordinary people remain trapped trying to pay unaffordable rents and mortgages.

“In large areas of our country young families are priced out of housing by wealthier property owners, often moving into rural areas at the end of their working lives. This ‘gentrification’ is crippling in Wales’s rural communities where young people are forced to find housing and work elsewhere. With the next generation being pushed out of our rural communities damage is being done to our economy, the Welsh language and our communities as a whole.

“Becoming an independent nation depends on us being able to build a sustainable rural economy in Wales. That means a Plaid Cymru government must work with local authorities to ensure everyone can access suitable and affordable housing in their own communities, rather than leaving such important matters to the whims of developers who are only out to make a quick profit.

“We would also explore ways in which inheritance tax on property can be linked to the amount of time someone has lived and worked in Wales – so that those who have contributed to our society and economy the most would carry the burden least and have something to pass on to their children in the community they have served.

“It isn’t complicated and it isn’t controversial – housing for local people must be a right rather than a privilege.”