Wales in Europe - via Griffithstown


What's your definition of Wales in Europe?

If your answer is Bonnie in Malmö, then I'd probably stop reading now. If it's 'net beneficiary' or 'best out' then you're in the right place. Read on.

The First Minister has used just about every available opportunity this week to repeat his message on Wales in Europe. On Monday, it was his subject of choice at the monthly press briefing. If the UK, and Wales with it, leave the EU, says Mr Jones, it would be an economic disaster. Inward investment would fall, companies would stay away, other would leave, jobs would go. For Mr Jones it is no-brainer territory - Wales benefits hugely from being part of both unions: the UK and the EU.

Anyone who suggests Wales would be better off outside the EU is nuts was the gist of his remarks.

A question about the newly re-opened Fighting Fit Gym in Griffithstown during First Minister's Questions yesterday (from Malmö to Griffithstown in three paragraphs ...) led to more First Ministerial messages on Europe. The gym had profited from EU funding. So had the Colwyn Bay Watersports Centre. In fact without the "largesse showered on that project" by Europe, it wouldn't have happened at all.

In fact £144m floods into the Welsh coffers every year. If we weren't in the EU, we'd lose it and wouldn't get it back from the UK government, said Mr Jones.

Welsh farmers get £350m from Europe every year. That would disappear, "Welsh farming would end".

And he was off, talking to the group of Conservative AMs sitting opposite him, but addressing those Welsh Conservative MPs who will use their vote in parliament later to protest about the absence of a commitment to hold a referendum on EU membership in the Queen's Speech.

"At at time when people are concerned about the economy ... want to ensure a roof over their heads, all we get day after day after day is an obsession about Europe, an incredible narrow- minded nationalism that UKIP has and has infected the Conservative party with. That is not in Wales' interest".

Tory AMs refused to rise to the bait. in this afternoon's opposition debate, questioning the Welsh government's delivery unit, Mr Jones goaded them again. They accused his government of failing to meet any number of its targets. He accused them of having "an unhealthy obsession" with the unit he said. It was nearly as bad as their unhealthy obsession with Europe. There we go again.

It was the same story at Welsh Questions in Westminster. Would jobs be "more or less secure" asked Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith, if Wales was not part of the EU. The Welsh Secretary refused to be drawn.

But when I put the same question to the deputy leader of the Conservative group here in the Assembly, there was no side-stepping, no brushing off. No, said Paul Davies, he did not believe Welsh jobs would be put at risk if Wales were no longer part of the EU. Neither did he believe that Carwyn Jones was right to say inward investment would inevitably fall away. The Welsh Government's "appalling track record on inward investment" he said, hardly pointed to EU membership paving the way to success on that front.

His colleague Darren Millar joined in.

The money we pay into the EU budget in the first place could be better used to directly support Welsh businesses. If there was a referendum on EU membership tomorrow, then for the record, both men would vote to get out.

Both were quick to add that they'd rather the Prime Minister negotiated a better deal that allowed the UK, and Wales therefore, to stay in the EU. But an economic disaster if we leave? No. To claim there'd be huge price to pay in jobs - if we left - was a nonsense.

The latest price on Bonnie to win in Malmö? 50-1.

The latest polling on whether Wales should remain in, or leave the EU? A few months ago 49% of you told us we'd better off if we left; 45% said stay in.

Place your bets on where we go from here.

Betsan Powys Article written by Betsan Powys Betsan Powys Former political editor, Wales

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  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Coming out of the EU would be one thing. Imagining that people like Nigel Farage or Tory eurosceptic MPs could pilot us all to a promised land of prosperity, of jobs, good living standards etc is quite another.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Anti-European attitudes are deep seated in Wales...remember that it is we in Wales who are least likely to have a modern foreign language, we in Wales who are the least likely to own a passport and we in Nationalist Wales who can't even welcome our nearest neighbours to settle amongst us. It is a strange hypocrisy to welcome EU money but not unification with greater Europe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    How has Wales benefited? Europe has done little for the bigger picture in Wales. It has not brought jobs or business, it has not improved the economic situation at all, in fact its red tape and bureaucratic processes has hampered any chance of revival. As far as Wales now being diverse, I fear the reverse has happened since PC moved to center stage. I was once proud to be Welsh....

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Independence is not being part or the EU. For their growing Bureaucracy is having an even greater influence on us, economically, socially and politically. They are unelected and as such not held to account. They give little to Wales and Wales has not benefited from it's membership. I am still asking where the short fall will come from if Wales were to split from the UK?

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    The UK doesn't have a regional policy any more. It outsourced it to the EU. Wales as a poor part of the UK benefits from EU structural funds. While the UK is a net contributor to the EU budget, Wales is a net beneficiary. Would a UK outside the EU have similar regional policy? And would Sony stay in Bridgend if the UK left the EU? Why would you want to take the chance - unless you're an idiot?


Comments 5 of 42



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