The Labour party’s support for keeping the UK in the single market and customs union for a transitional period after leaving the EU has been welcomed by the Farmers’ Union of Wales.
Speaking at the Union’s September Council, FUW President Glyn Roberts said Labour were the latest of many bodies to support the Union’s longstanding view on the need for a safe Brexit transition period.
It is welcome news that the need for a safe timetable, which we highlighted in June 2016 and the foremost demand outlined in our May 2017 Manifesto, is sinking in amongst so many,”he said.
Writing in the Observer, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer set out Labour's new position, saying that a transitional period was needed to avoid a "cliff edge" for the economy, and that Labour would seek a transitional deal that involved remain in a customs union with the EU and within the single market during a transitional period.
Mr Roberts also highlighted his concerns regarding the UK Withdrawal Bill due to be voted upon by Parliament later today (11 September), telling Council members: “On the day of the EU referendum the electorate were asked whether they wanted us to leave or stay in the European Union. They were not asked whether we should change the balance of powers between devolved administrations, nor were they asked whether we should leave or stay in the single market or the customs union.”
Mr Roberts’ words echoed the Union’s recent response to a National Assembly for Wales Consultation on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill and its implications for Wales, in which the Union stated: “Negotiating Brexit transitional arrangements with the EU which allow sufficient time to reach agreement on trade and other matters, and properly scrutinise and implement changes to domestic legislation, including any withdrawal Bill, should be a priority.”
The need for a safer transition period has also been recognised by many outside the UK - only last month former Irish Prime Minister and EU Ambassador to the US John Bruton told a conference that the “…build up of pressure in these negotiations…” could be mitigated by “…lengthening the Treaty based negotiation time line from two years to (say) six years, allowing the UK to remain in the EU until the end of that period.”
“Such a change, would not alter the UK’s ultimate course in terms of leaving the EU, but would allow this to take place over a more realistic and proportionate timescale,” said Mr Roberts.