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Five years on: voices from Wales – David Lea-Wilson

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David Lea-Wilson of Halen Mon (Anglesey) on the impact on North Wales exporters, businesses and why he’s still supporting Wales for Europe

“In the next week it will be the 5 years since the June 23rd Brexit referendum.

Are you full of sorrow or exultant that Brexit happened?

The country was split with 17 – 18  million votes going each way. Our current prime Minister was probably a factor in using his gifts of oratory in swaying people that they would be ‘Taking back Control’.

Obviously I’m one of those who think and look back with what I can only call sorrow that Britain took such a profound decision that will affect us and our children and our planet for decades.

This isn’t the place to rerun all those debates that led up to the referendum. But it is the place to get a feel for whether Pro Brexit promises and claims are coming good. They aren’t!

I have to declare an interest as I support ‘Wales for Europe’ a group who believe that we need to engage with Europe and seek a way more positive way forward with the EU. I think that the group is doing sterling work on an absolute shoestring.

I have just listened to a webinar with the top economists in HSBC. They don’t have an axe to grind either way so their views were very revealing – certainly for anyone in the business world.

The gloom and doom list at a Macro level is long and here are some.

The pound has yet to recover against the dollar or the Euro.  Britain’s currency is still weaker 5 years on. Trade is significantly down 5 years on. The trade deals being proposed (Australia , TTPP etc ) won’t make up for the barriers we have created with our  European neighbours. The full impact of import barriers are yet to show as it is still easy to import but that will change at the end of this year. The labour market has tightened hugely. Real unemployment is expected to grow significantly and be proven in February 2022 when the last quarter results come in. Shortages and delays in supply are being blamed on Covid but many are caused by Brexit Pigeons coming home to roost. The problem of N Ireland and EU ‘seamless border’ is growing daily. Investment by business in 2016 stopped most serious long term investment and it has yet to restart. The dividends of Brexit– hard to see any so far – maybe ‘taking control’ of small trade deals is good for a few.

At a micro level there are things happening in North Wales that some ascribe to the Covid effect but actually are linked to Brexit. I have experience of 3 of our own staff returning to the EU and no one replacing them, I see a shortage of delivery drivers, a summer shortage of staff, and huge challenges exporting to the EU. The impact is yet to be felt to the full by agriculture which still gets subsidy for a year or two.

Just ask a small cheese exporter, a shellfish exporter, a nursery plant exporter how they are doing? Actually you can’t because they aren’t exporters any more thanks to Brexit.

So can I encourage people to join ‘Wales for Europe.org’.  It needs more supporters and ideally paying supporters!”