Leaving the EU will entrench Wales' unequal status
Western Mail Country & Farming Column
January 29th 2019

Research published last week shows that the worst inequality in Europe is between London and Wales - and leaving the European Union will make our situation worse.

Inner London's GDP is 614% of the EU average, while west Wales and the Valleys has a GDP of 68% of the same EU average.

These figures should be a source of shame for the Westminster Government. They confirm that it will not be those who caused this Brexit chaos that will shoulder the burden, but our communities in Wales. That will be particularly true for rural communities. The figures not only show the current sorry context. They also show a change in the future.

The research by the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions concludes that the United Kingdom would be entitled to around 13bn of regional development funding between 2021-27 if we stay in the EU. That is an increase of 22% since the previous EU funding cycle (2014-21).

If not for Brexit, Wales would see a rise from 3.1bn-3.8bn in EU investment funds for infrastructure, skills and training. This money would help rebalance our economy and create a fairer society.

Our EU investment is being taken away at a time when we have more need for it than ever before.

The mere fact that Wales qualifies for increased EU support is a damning indictment of successive Westminster governments, given that funding is based on regional deprivation.

Plaid Cymru is fighting not only for Wales's EU funding but for innovative ways to boost economic growth and jobs in Wales.

But the reality is that economic transformation is difficult without the money to make it happen. Leaving the EU will not only make Wales poorer, but will also weaken our ability to change this in the future.

Economics is not about lines on a chart. It's about empowering people to be their best selves and to live their best lives. It's about people not having to move hundreds of miles for work and being able to live in a place that they love.

An economic model which entrenches the worst inequality in Europe is not a sustainable one. If we want to end this shocking inequality, leaving the EU is the last thing we should do.

Day after day, the terrible effects become clearer. For the sake of our democracy, society and economy, we must have a People's Vote with the option of remaining in the EU.

Ends.

Photo: Jill Evans