Cllr Paul Griffiths is a Labour Councillor on the County Borough Council Rhondda Cynon Taf. He is a former Special Adviser and Head of the Strategic Policy Unit at the Welsh Government as well as Head of Corporate Affairs at the Welsh Local Government Association.
This post was first published by Paul Griffiths on his blog.
We are looking for light at the end of the Brexit tunnel. Here it is!
Before the UK negotiates its departure from the EU, Scotland will vote in a referendum to leave the United Kingdom and stay in the European Union.
This will allow us in Wales to claim that our EU referendum took place on a false prospectus. We were offered a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as an alternative to membership of the European Union. Scotland leaving the UK changes the offer.
On this basis the Welsh Government should demand a new referendum in Wales in which we are asked to choose between a union with England or a separate Wales within the European Union.
An ‘independent’ Wales within the European Union would be uniquely placed to have access to markets in an otherwise isolated England and in the EU. In this context Wales would build on its current manufacturing base to be Northern Europe’s key location for steel, the automotive and aeronautic industries, new energy and bio-medical technologies. Former UK university research groups will relocate to Wales to maintain European networks. Key financial services will move from London to Cardiff to maintain a bridgehead into Europe.
Disaffected Welsh voters who have recently voted to leave the EU in a desperate desire for change would instead be persuaded to constitutionally detach themselves from England if the vision of a new future was clearly articulated.
Is this fantasy? Sceptics will point to the large gap between tax revenues and public expenditure in Wales, a gap that will widen so long as our economy is subservient to the needs of London as a beleaguered base for finance capital. If we have the vision to grow our economy through innovation, investment in skills, a march of the makers, a rich mix of small and large enterprises replicating the ownership and banking structures of Germany and Scandinavia, a more equal resource distribution, empowered and purposeful trades unions; our public finances will look after themselves. People of Wales, united with Europe, providing a bridge into England, we have nothing to lose but our chains.