Why the Welsh are marching for a People’s Vote

PUBLISHED: 12:41 19 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:41 19 October 2018

Welsh flag in a crowd (Photograph; Press Association)

Welsh flag in a crowd (Photograph; Press Association)

Archant

The People’s Vote March will bring together people from across the United Kingdom to fight for a final say on Brexit. Young Plaid Cymru activist CARMEN RIA SMITH explains why the Welsh are marching.

You wouldn’t apply to a college or a university without knowing what it looks like.

When you make one of the biggest decisions of your life, it goes without saying that you need to know the details. If, when you get on campus, what you get isn’t what you were promised; you can change university, or not go at all. It’s a contract, between you and your university.

If they break it, you don’t have to own it.

MORE: All you need to know about the People’s Vote March

Democratic governments are a gift, for this very reason - because it’s based on giving and receiving. It’s the only way it can work. So when political leaders brazenly lie to the public, they’re not just breaking trust - they’re undermining the very basic principled foundations of our society.

The Brexiteers told us that £350 million a week would go to the NHS. They said it would be ‘easy’ to strike trade deals across the world. They claimed that we could ‘take back control’ of our lives.What we have seen instead is instability, incompetence, and insecurity – coupled with a power grab by a Tory government taking powers away from Wales back to Westminster while the Labour government here stands by doing nothing.

Two years on from the EU referendum and the British government is still no closer to securing a beneficial deal as promised to the public.

It is ironic that the theme of the most recent Conservative party conference, the deliverers of Brexit, was headlined as ‘opportunity’.

What we have is no deals on medicines, no deals on food, no deals on trade and no deals on the movement of people.

I am sure that none of those voters who voted to leave the EU voted for drug shortages, unemployment, a hard border in Northern Ireland, visa requirements to visit our nearest neighbours and threats to environmental protection and our human rights. And all of these are real risks of a hard ‘no deal’ Brexit.

The future looks opportunity bare – an isolated island of broken Britain.

MORE: A People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal is the ‘Yorkshire’ way

It has become clearer each day that the grass isn’t actually greener on the other side.

That’s why we need a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal. Everyday, more and more people are coming to the same conclusion. That elected politicians won’t be able to get us out of this mess of their own making – only the British public can.

This hasn’t been any clearer than to young people across the UK. That is why we are mobilising in our thousands through For our Futures Sake - a youth and student-led group, to campaign for a People’s Vote.

Students and young people have the most to lose from Brexit, and will suffer the consequences for the longest.

MORE: Don’t leave it to the Lib Dems to protest against Brexit

Since 2016, more than 1.4 million additional young people can now have their voices heard in a People’s Vote with Brexit yet to be decided. In Wales, approximately 71,500 young people have reached the voting age since we voted to leave. That is not far short of the original national majority in Wales for Brexit.

The impact of Wales leaving the European Union, especially if done without a deal, will have a much more profound effect on the lives of young people than anyone else.

We have a right to be angry. We have a right to demand a people’s vote.

Our future is being gambled and we have the right to a voice in determining that future.

Plaid Ifanc, the youth wing of my party Plaid Cymru, believes that young people should be central to decisions about their futures. Both Plaid Cymru’s and Plaid Ifanc’s have overwhelming voted in support of a People’s Vote.

MORE: It’s time to put our money where our collective mouth is

We’ve learnt over recent months that Brexit will not deliver any tangible benefit to Wales or to our people. This is yet more evidence that Westminster is unable to deliver for the people of Wales.

I grew up in Anglesey where poverty is rife. The ONS has shown that Anglesey is not only at the bottom of the Welsh prosperity league, but the whole of the UK. One in three children grow up in poverty on the island. With Brexit, that poverty is only going to get much worse.

I am proud to be from Wales. Wales is a brilliant, diverse and innovative nation with a proud history, heritage and distinct culture and language. That Wales is under threat.

We cannot stand idly by as Brexit decimates our industries and trades away our hard won rights.

I believe in the new Wales in Europe we can build.

I believe we need a People’s Vote for our nation.

People from all walks of life across Wales, are all coming to the same conclusion - that we need a People’s Vote on the Final Brexit Deal.

I therefore urge you all - join us and thousands of people across the UK in making a clear statement to Westminster – marching for a People’s Vote this Saturday.

• Carmen Ria Smith is a Plaid Cymru and Plaid Ifanc campaigner, and is also a spokesperson for For Our Future’s Sake (FFS).

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