Leaving the EU

I was born just over a year before the UK joined the European Union and the decision to leave the EU this week was the biggest single political event of my lifetime.

I voted to Remain - I believe that, though in need of major reform, membership of the EU is in the best interests of the UK, Wales and Neath. But I am a democrat - voters have chosen a different future and I respect the decision.

Neighbours, good friends and family members voted differently from one another. Many people struggled with the decision, anxious to make the right choice.

During the referendum campaign it sometimes seemed that we had forgotten how to disagree without being disrespectful. But it’s important now that we move on, come together again and respect one another, regardless of how we voted.

The years ahead are going to be hard, as we adjust to being outside the EU. For people working in companies that export a lot to the EU, who are on EU-backed skills programmes or belong to organisations funded by the EU, they will understandably be anxious. Hopefully, there should be no immediate impact, though sadly that will change with time.

(If you work for an organisation that’s funded by the EU and you’re worried, please get in touch - 01792 869993).

The country has been split in two by the choice we faced. But in truth, it was split in two well before the referendum. Many people voted to come out because they felt unfairly treated, that they didn’t have the sense of security or opportunity that they once had, or that their parents had.

I don’t believe that coming out of the EU will fix this. I think that these anxieties are there because our country is now part of a global economy where it’s easy for companies to move between countries, taking jobs and investment with them, and that UK government policy is skewed against working class communities and in favour of the better off.

Leaving the EU sadly changes none of that. But unless we address the real causes, people are still going to feel unfairly treated, even after we leave.

So now we face competing ideas of what sort of Britain and Wales we want, outside the EU.

Many (though not all) on the Leave side want a country of lower taxes on the wealthy, minimal public services and fewer rights at work for working people. I reject that vision.

I want our country to be one where effort is rewarded whatever your background, where people can get work with proper rights and decent pay, where companies pay their fair share of tax, where we treat people equally and fairly, and which is outward-looking and tolerant.

Even though I believe that some of these things will be harder to achieve now, I will be fighting to make sure that this is the kind of Wales and Britain that we rebuild for ourselves, outside the EU.

(I will be holding drop-in advice sessions in the coming weeks specifically for anyone who is concerned about how leaving the EU will affect them. Details will be publicised shortly.)

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Jeremy Miles AM / AC

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