Saturday, July 28, 2018

Latest from Cil Farm and Royal Welsh on Brexit.

Two days at the Royal Welsh Show at Llanelwedd this week - the best agricultural show in the UK. This year, Montgomeryshire is the host County, and lots us have helped raise money to make it a memorable year. And thanks to wonderful weather it has been memorable. Our own Tom Tudor of Llysun Farm, Llanerfyl is the President, just reward for a lifetime given to farming and his local community. The Royal Welsh is a great place to meet old friends and discuss matters of concern to all of Wales - the Politics of Powys, Wales, the United Kingdom, Europe and the world. At the heart of all this discussion are those issues that relate to the future of our countryside. Was hoping to talk about something other than Brexit! My hopes were disappointed.

First event was a seminar in the NFU Cymru marquee. Strong panel including Carwyn Jones, Welsh First Minister and presidents of NFU Cymru and UK. And the issue was (you’ve guessed it) Brexit. There was widespread concern about the future. Almost nil reference to the opportunities. After an hour of relentless pessimism, even my natural optimism began to wane. It was obvious to me that the leaders of the farming unions remain deeply opposed to Brexit, as they were when the people of Britain voted Leave in 2016. 

As I listened to the platform presentations (and most of the contributions from the floor), my mind drifted back to the rancorous debate before th e EU Referendum. After listening to the leaders of the farming unions the, I discussed the issue with farmers selling their lambs in the local livestock market. Surprisingly, they were mostly in favour of Leave, despite the uncertainty. I suspect it’s the same now.

I voted Leave myself, despite being consumed by uncertainty. I simply did not want my country to be subsumed in an “ever closer union”. I still don’t. My hesitation in 2016 was because I thought disengaging from the EU would be a very long and difficult process. Nothing since has lessened my uncertainty. But we did hold a referendum, we did vote Leave, and we are going to Leave. Anything else would be a constitutional outrage. 

There are many voices who are calling for a second referendum. There are some in all political parties. I am not one of them. In my view it would be the worst option of all and could well lead to civil unrest. I would prefer to be honest with the people and tell them that Parliament is not prepared to accept their judgement as expressed in the referendum, as hold another one. In my view, the calls for another referendum come from those who do not accept the result of the 2016 referendum. This ‘campaign’ must not be allowed to succeed. 

I was very supportive of the agreement about a UK negotiating position agreed by the Cabinet at Chequers two weeks ago. It wasn’t exactly what I would have wanted personally. I was disappointed that MPs amended the agreement, mainly because it made it less likely to be accepted. We have reached the stage where the intransigence of the EU mean ‘No Deal’ is become a likely option. No-one wants this, but I’ve always thought it a better option than being bullied into submission by the EU. 

Despite the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the EU/UK negotiations, I still feel optimistic and would still vote Leave. The behaviour of the EU negotiating team over the last two years has strengthened my resolve. It may be my bloody-minded streak, or my continued belief in the can-do spirit of the British people. And I think the silent majority feel the same.