(Title Image: via Senedd TV)
Following yesterday’s second rejection of the EU Withdrawal Agreement at Westminster, Plaid Cymru leader, Adam Price AM (Plaid, Carms. E. & Dinwfwr) tabled an emergency question asking for a statement on Welsh Government policy in light of the vote.
“A unicorn is still a fantasy creature, whether painted red or blue”
While the First Minister’s initial response was something you would expect – Welsh Government policy remains unchanged – it quickly boiled over.
Adam Price said Jeremy Corbyn has, effectively, led a ruse on his support for a second referendum and was trying to pursue a Brexit that was essentially the same as the one Westminster has already rejected; “a unicorn is still a fantasy creature, whether painted red or blue”. If the First Minister still believed Corbyn on a second referendum then he was, “either a liar or a fool”.
The full exchange is below:
Needless to say, the First Minister was visibly angered by the disrespectful tone (at Westminster calling someone a “liar” is deemed unparliamentary language and could see an MP expelled from the chamber). He then suggested Plaid Cymru was willing to overturn the referendum result and back the revocation of Article 50.
In terms of the substance of the question, the First Minister thought a deal could still be done.
“An orderly exit”
Shadow Brexit Minister, Darren Millar AM (Con, Clwyd West), praised the way in which the Welsh and UK governments were working together to secure an orderly exit from the EU. He asked whether there was still a commitment to work with London regardless of whether there was a deal or not?
The First Minister said it was his government’s responsibility to work with the other governments of the UK – even if he disagrees in the manner the Prime Minister has approached it. Nonetheless, while he opposes a No Deal it was the job of a “responsible government” to prepare for any eventualities.
David Rees AM (Lab, Aberavon) thought we were accelerating towards a “No Deal” and the UK Government had made no attempt to change direction. Was it time for a new UK general election?
A supporter of a second referendum, Lynne Neagle AM (Lab, Torfaen), said the EU has been clear there’s no scope for further negotiation and did the First Minister agree that there are few options remaining on the table – including a “People’s Vote”.
The First Minister reminded him that MPs can take a No Deal off the table tonight in another vote and said that when the House of Commons has failed twice to get a deal through then it was time for a fresh House of Commons.
He saw five possible options: leaving with no deal, backing Theresa May’s Deal, a second referendum, a new UK general election or a completely new deal which would garner more widespread support.