Wales politics

Brexit: 'Deluded arrogance' to leave EU single market

Welsh flag on European building

Plaid Cymru has accused rival parties of "deluded arrogance", claiming they want the UK to leave the European single market after Brexit.

MP Jonathan Edwards said free trade deals negotiated by the bloc with other nations accounted for 60% of UK trade.

He accused Labour and the Tories of being willing to "tear up" the deals to "appease the fringes" of their parties.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said he had consistently called for the UK to retain "access" to the single market.

In a Commons motion, Mr Edwards said he was concerned leaving the single market would not only mean giving up free trade with EU countries, but also losing the trade deals they collectively had with other countries across the world.

"That the Westminster parties are willing to throw away more than 50 international trade deals, on which Wales and much of the British state depends, shows a deluded arrogance that I have not seen since the days of Margaret Thatcher." he said.

Plaid Cymru criticised Labour for siding with UKIP and the Conservatives in backing an assembly vote on Wednesday which called for single market access rather than membership.

The party said the move amounted to support for a so-called "hard Brexit".

Image caption Jonathan Edwards said Wales traded more with countries outside the EU than inside it

Mr Edwards added: "60% of UK trade is free thanks to these trade deals that Labour and the Tories are willing to tear up to appease the fringes of their respective parties.

"The Welsh economy is led by its exports and we export more to non-EU countries than we do to the EU itself."

"We must respect the result of the referendum and leave the political union, but we must also ensure continued membership of the Single Market to protect our economic links with the international community."

Mr Jones said he had consistently called for the UK to retain "access" to the single market, but claimed the public would not accept any Brexit deal involving free movement of people.

On Sunday, Economy Secretary Ken Skates claimed Plaid Cymru was "somewhat confused" in thinking the UK could have membership of the single market without accepting free movement of people.

"If they think you can pick and choose in terms of membership what you then have to comply with, they need to state very clearly they're in support of no change to immigration," he told BBC Radio Wales.

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies called the assembly vote "a bright day for Welsh democracy".

"I'm pleased that the Welsh political establishment has at last heeded my calls to accept the [referendum] result and to move on to securing the best possible deal for Wales," he added.

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