Are Labour Leaders of One Mind in EU Split? Chief Reporter Martin Shipton Explores Whether There Really Is a Disagreement within the Labour Party over the Terms of Brexit between Carwyn Jones and the Welsh Government on One Side and Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell on the Other

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 14, 2017 | Go to article overview

Are Labour Leaders of One Mind in EU Split? Chief Reporter Martin Shipton Explores Whether There Really Is a Disagreement within the Labour Party over the Terms of Brexit between Carwyn Jones and the Welsh Government on One Side and Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell on the Other


IN THE new political context created by last week's election - and as Brexit talks loom - Labour's opponents in Wales have been pointing up what they see as inconsistencies on the issue between Carwyn Jones and Jeremy Corbyn.

If the result of the election had been as Labour themselves expected - a strong majority for Theresa May and the Conservatives - this woudn't have mattered too much.

But with the Tories having failed to secure an overall majority, any difference between Welsh Labour and British Labour could be crucial in determining the UK's future relationship with the EU.

If, for example, there were genuine splits between Welsh Labour and British Labour to the point where the party's MPs from Wales were prepared to vote differently from those from England and Scotland, Mrs May would still be able to push her "hard Brexit" deal through.

Indeed, a lot of spinning is going on around this very issue.

The Centre for Welsh Studies - a right-wing, pro-Brexit thinktank - has issued a statement in response to Mr Jones' latest support for a "soft Brexit", saying: "The First Minister has proven once again that he is delusional.

On June 8, 84.5% of the vote in Wales went for political parties whose manifestos support leaving the EU.

"People voted to take back control of borders, laws and finance. The result must be respected."

Mr Jones has emphasised the importance of "full and unfettered access" to the single market. In January the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru jointly published a White Paper which outlined the kind of Brexit they favoured.

To maintain the existing level of access to the free market would require a commitment to maintain freedom of movement for migrants from the EU - a position at first sight incompatible with placing restrictions on immigration, a key concern of many of those who voted Leave.

However, the compromise suggested by the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru would see freedom of movement modified so that people without a confirmed job offer would not be entitled to claim UK benefits.

At the time the White Paper was launched, Mr Jones said: "The referendum shone a light on people's concerns around immigration and it's our job to address those concerns.

"If we get this wrong and fundamentally weaken our economy it will only worsen the social fabric of those left-behind communities who voted leave, and that can't surely be in anyone's interests. …

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Are Labour Leaders of One Mind in EU Split? Chief Reporter Martin Shipton Explores Whether There Really Is a Disagreement within the Labour Party over the Terms of Brexit between Carwyn Jones and the Welsh Government on One Side and Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell on the Other
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