Wales for Europe deeply regrets that the UK Government is putting ideology ahead of the national interest and the country’s health in refusing to seek an extension to the transition period while we fight the Covid-19 crisis.
We call on the government to reconsider before the 30th June deadline. This is the only responsible action for any UK government to take in the light of the Covid-19 crisis.
We also call on the people of Wales who are concerned about their future – from politicians to pensioners, students to small business owners, farmers to families – to speak up against a rushed deal that is not in our social or economic interest.
The UK, and Wales in particular, cannot afford to leave the EU without a clear, well-planned deal that takes every part of the UK into account. Now that we face the damage and uncertainty of coronavirus, we can afford it even less.
Extending the transition period to allow the EU and the UK time to prioritise the life and death fight against coronavirus would be the right course of action for any responsible government.
The First Ministers of Wales and Scotland, Mark Drakeford and Nicola Sturgeon, in a joint letter to the Prime Minister on 12th June have stated that, in the current circumstances, “exiting the transition period at the end of the year would be extraordinarily reckless”.
We agree. There is too much at stake. It is unacceptable that the UK Government should have dismissed their request out of hand.
Boris Johnson’s government could choose to gain more time. It could choose to do better by the people of the UK. It is refusing to do so.
Leaving the EU with no deal would be disastrous. But just avoiding ‘no deal’ is not good enough. A deal that does not protect the lives and livelihoods of the people of Wales is not good enough.
A ‘bare bones’ deal that allows the erosion of our protections, rights and standards over time is not good enough.
A deal that piles further hardship on top of the suffering caused by the Covid crisis is not good enough.
Even if Brexit cannot be averted, there are still choices to be made, still much to fight for in the form it takes. We need time to get it as right as can be.