Recently released Government trade figures once again show how important trading with the EU is to our economy.
Every year the Government releases figures showing how much the British economy is buying and selling abroad and in which countries that trade takes place. This year’s figures show that we sell almost as much to the 435 million people that live in EU as we do to the other 5.5 billion people in the rest of the world. Even more impressively, we buy more from those 435 million people than we do from the rest of the world.
The figures show that in total, our trade with the EU is worth £603 billion and our trade with the rest of the world is worth £527 billion. We sell almost twice as much to Dutch companies compared to what we sell to those in China. These sales translate into jobs. In Wales alone, 192,000 jobs are dependent on our trade with the Europe Union.
This success in selling and buying from other EU countries is no accident.
We’ve spent decades making it easy for British businesses to buy and sell in EU countries by building a shared legal system and synchronising standards, a task made easier by our shared values and similar economies. Theresa May has admitted that contrary to the promises of the Leave campaign, her Brexit plan will leave this relationship dead and buried. Instead we’re going to try and build deals with the countries that have very different economies, legal systems and standards to our own.
The idea that we should move closer to countries like China presents a dire risk to what remains of UK manufacturing industry. For example, the Save Our Steel campaign supported by UNITE, GMB and Community unions showed that it was Chinese manipulation of the steel market underwritten by massive subsidies and low labour standards that was undercutting UK steel and threatening jobs and livelihoods here in Wales. Abandoning the fair playing field we have with European Union countries is a recipe for disaster.
This is why there must be a public vote at the end of the negotiations. The public must have a say on whether they want whatever deal Theresa May has negotiated, want to leave with no deal but most importantly, on staying in the EU because those first two options are unacceptable.