Following the Queen’s Speech earlier this week, I am supporting the call for the UK to remain a member of the customs union. I have signed a parliamentary motion (Early Day Motion) to that effect. There will be a huge number of issues arising out of the decision to leave the EU, but the issues of the single market and the customs union, along with the rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK to remain here, are in my view the most critical.
Almost two-thirds of Welsh goods are exported to the European Union free of any tariffs. So if tariffs (charges) are applied to those goods we export when we leave the EU, the impact on Welsh business will be devastating. This problem is even more acute in Cardiff. Of all the cities in the United Kingdom, Cardiff is the fifth most reliant on EU exports, with 61% of everything we sell going to the European Union.
For all the hot air and reassuring noises we hear from the Tory Government on life post Brexit, those statistics clearly demonstrate that any disruption to our trading links with the EU could put jobs in Cardiff Central at risk.
Being outside the Customs Union would mean that there would have to customs checks for all freight of a certain size entering Welsh ports, and that Welsh goods going to Europe would be subject to significantly greater checks and documentation requirements to be allowed through to Europe. All this makes our businesses and the goods we sell less competitive and less attractive to buyers.
Early Day Motions represent a chance for backbench MPs from any party to support statements that might not make it to the floor of the House of Commons to be formally debated. Whilst the Government does not have to formally respond to them, they can put pressure on the Government. For instance, over 200 MPs signed the Early Day Motion in the last Parliament condemning the proposed state visit to the UK by Donald Trump. There was no mention of the visit in this week’s Queen’s Speech.
You can read the full Motion below;
This House notes the benefits of UK membership of the European Union (EU) Customs Union which removes costly and time-consuming customs processes and red tape for trade with other EU member states, allows the operation of a soft Northern Ireland-Republic of Ireland border that would be in jeopardy were the UK to leave, and allows the UK to fully benefit from 56 existing trade agreements signed with external countries which by leaving could result in less preferential terms under any other bilateral trade re-negotiations; and further notes that the terms of UK membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are currently governed by its membership of the EU Customs Union, and that by leaving in order to become an independent member of the WTO the UK’s existing WTO commitments would need to be renegotiated; and calls on the Government to negotiate for the UK to remain a member of the EU Customs Union following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.