Labour accused of “playing politics” at Westminster over Brexit

(Title Image: RTE)

Here’s a summary of this afternoon’s questions to the Counsel General and Brexit Minister.

Does Labour want a second referendum?

Shadow Brexit Minister, Darren Millar AM (Con, Clwyd West) asked whether the Welsh Government now supports a second Brexit referendum?

“We voted in this Chamber just a couple of weeks ago, and the Welsh Government seemed to support preparations for a second referendum, but it didn’t expressly indicate whether there was support for a referendum or not. And I think the situation is such that you should be changing your Labour Party website address to because I think lots of people out there find it bizarre that we’re in a situation where the Welsh Government votes to prepare for a second referendum without actually demonstrating whether it supports having one or not.”
– Shadow Brexit Minister, Darren Millar AM

The Counsel General, Jeremy Miles (Lab, Neath), said Welsh Labour’s position was quite clear; if a good deal can’t be agreed or there’s any form of political deadlock then the decision will have to go back to the people. He recommended the Prime Minister fully engage with Jeremy Corbyn to find a way to get a deal through the UK Parliament.

Darren accused Labour of “playing politics”, to which the Counsel General replied:

“….I won’t take any lessons from him on playing politics on this issue. The opposition is completely clear, and the best means of resolving this and avoiding a no deal situation is for the Prime Minister to drop her red lines and seek to achieve a consensus across Parliament on the sorts of the principles that there could be a broadly based coalition, not the narrow coalition she’s trying to establish at the moment.”
– Counsel General and Brexit Minister, Jeremy Miles AM

No intelligence of Brexit-related civil unrest

Adam Price AM (Plaid, Carms. E. & Dinefwr) asked for an update on how medicines and medical equipment were being dealt with. Did the Welsh Government intend to publish a list of possible medicines and devices that could be caught in a “No Deal” so they can prepare?

The Counsel General said work on this wasn’t yet complete, but the public didn’t need to behave any differently at the moment. Adam moved on to civil contingencies:

“So, may I ask him, too, whether he is aware of any contingency plans by the police forces in Wales to put police officers on standby, to respond to any civil disputes, or disputes in our ports, should there be a ‘no deal’ Brexit? And if you have had those discussions, could you give some details on the number of officers that we are talking about?”
– Adam Price AM

The Counsel General confirmed that the police are being consulted as part of civil contingencies arrangements, but didn’t go into any detail. However, there was no intelligence of any possible civil unrest resulting from Brexit.

International relations after Brexit

Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda) asked what discussions the Counsel General has had with the International Relations Minister on co-operating with other nations after Brexit? The late Steffan Lewis has a vision of closer co-operation with Scotland and Ireland; did the Counsel General see the benefits of a “Celtic Alliance”?

Suzy Davies AM (Con, South Wales West) added later that Wales wasn’t unique in being a bilingual country and can learn from other countries which have a minority language – the EU having programmes to support them.

The Counsel General stressed that while the British-Irish Council was a vital institution, it was important to strengthen Wales’ international ties generally:

“We need to look at cementing a range of relationships, I think, in our future, both within the Celtic nations, but also with other sub-state nations across the rest of Europe. We have memoranda of understanding or action plans already in place with Brittany, with the Basque country, we’re about to embark on a similar set of discussions with the Galicians, with Quebec….”
– Counsel General and Brexit Minister, Jeremy Miles AM

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