Labour and Plaid Cymru might say there is no mandate to leave the EU with no deal, but there is certainly no mandate for a second referendum or to remain, says Paul Davies, Welsh Conservatives leader.
Before I started writing this column, I couldn’t help but think to myself, ‘What else can be said about Brexit?’
So imagine the sense of surprise and consternation I felt when the Welsh Labour Government and Plaid Cymru colluded together to recall the National Assembly for Wales during the summer recess to have an emergency debate on – you’ve guessed it – Brexit!
Together, they co-tabled a motion which did all it could not to reflect the result the people of Wales voted for.
And that’s what I’ve found to be the most astonishing thing about the last three years.
It started with the pretence of accepting the referendum result by Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru, who then advocated a form of Brexit so far removed from the mandate of controlling our borders, money, trade, and laws that it merely meant surrendering voting rights on the rules which the UK would be subjected to.
Their next position was to propose having a second referendum on leaving the EU because the process had been such ‘a mess’.
However, the greatest contributors to that ‘mess’ have been those parties who have refused the will of British and Welsh voters.
‘Oh we tried’, they cried, saying, ‘We did our best but could not see a way forward’.
But not a single Plaid – or, indeed, Lib Dem – MP voted for Theresa May’s deal on the three occasions it was brought before the House of Commons, and the number of Labour MPs who did can be counted on one hand. And none of them were from Wales!
We’ve now seen those parties actively work to pass a law which forces the Prime Minister to go to Brussels before October 31 to ask for another extension and accept whatever the terms are. Yes, you heard that right – whatever the terms are.
What has been extraordinary among the Welsh establishment is this: they see the referendums which created their roles as sacrosanct, but are so quick to dispense with the result of the EU referendum, which had vastly higher turnout levels.
This is even clearer now with the Lib Dems’ policy to revoke Article 50 altogether if they outright won a General Election, and Plaid Cymru’s intention to consult their own members on the same policy. Party of Wales indeed!
It’s a shame these parties don’t realise by treating one referendum this way, they make them an impossible tool to use in the future and cast doubt over the legitimacy of past ones.
Finally, I want to mention something the Labour-Plaid motion said when they re-called the Assembly.
They argued there was no mandate for the UK to leave the EU without a deal, and we should have a second referendum.
If there was one thing the referendum result – Wales or UK-wide – did not have, it was a mandate to remain in the EU or force a second vote.
And if there was one thing that did have a mandate, it is that we must leave the EU.
Paul can be found tweeting at @PaulDaviesPembs