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.


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.


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