- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Blog
As we approach EU Referendum D-day, it’s very nearly make your mind up time. According to various polls, perhaps as many as 30 percent of people will decide how they will vote in this final week. The polls themselves promote indecision, as people react to the latest predictions – a feedback loop. Many people, though, are still weighing up the pros and cons, soberly considering things like Britain’s place in the world, the implications of Brexit for Wales and the other devolved nations, our international responsibilities, their children’s and grandchildren’s future, their own financial circumstances.
It doesn’t help that the debate has been less than edifying, both sides trading scare stories and inflammatory rhetoric, and the Tory Party tearing itself in two. The worst aspect, to me, has been the stoking of people’s anxieties about immigration. The mass movement of people is the great global challenge of this century, co-operation is the only way ahead. We cannot pull up the drawbridge (and Trump will not build a wall). Turkey is not joining the EU, whatever that shameless leaflet says. The EU does not want a border with Iraq and Syria. Even if Turkey does one day qualify for accession (politically, it is moving in the wrong direction to do that), the UK retains a veto.
The other headline claim of the Out campaign has been leaving will deliver more money for the NHS. Rubbish. And I expect most people know that. Certainly people in Powys are wise to ignoring NHS scare stories. At the last General Election the Tories claimed Offa’s Dyke was a line between life and death. Rubbish. Around 15,000 Welsh residents are registered with a GP in England, and around 21,000 English residents are registered with a GP here. Both are entitled to free prescriptions. Meanwhile more than 56,000 Welsh residents were admitted to an NHS hospital in England in 2014-15, and 10,500 English patients were admitted to a Welsh NHS hospital. The arrangements for cross-border healthcare commissioning are set out in a protocol between the Welsh Government and the NHS Commissioning Board in England. Co-operation, again. Looking beyond 23 June, on Friday 8 July I’ll be at a health meeting in the Ystradgynlais to discuss local provision.
During the referendum campaign, people have even argued how historical figures would vote. Winston Churchill? George Orwell? Both men belonged to the Wars generation. My own father was a prisoner-of-war in the Second World War, he understood the consequences of an unstable and divided Europe. For what it’s worth, I believe if we were to vote Leave the rest of the EU, rather than become fractured, would deal with the structural issues that our vote has brought to the fore – it would reform and renew.
My father was a farmworker from Llanbrynmair. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has certainly been good for Welsh farmers and good for the countryside. Just as there is no way the UK Government would make up EU funding of West Wales and the Valleys, can you really imagine a British Government ring-fencing farm spending as the EU does? Looking towards the future, Wales is leading the way in the UK as the only nation to provide a 100% digital approach to CAP payment applications – figures reveal the first online-only CAP Single Application Form has been a great success, with 16,252 application received by the 16 May deadline.
One thing we can all agree on, I hope, is that in the football we will remain in Europe! I write ahead of The Big Game on Thursday. Come on Wales, Together Stronger.