From Planet 227

by Ned Thomas

Following our invitation to pool ideas for how to safeguard Welsh national interests following the Leave vote, Ned Thomas warns that we first need to be fully aware of what is at stake for Wales should we no longer be part of a European mosaic of cultures and languages. With the dream of Welsh European ‘unity in diversity’ under threat, he argues that the Welsh language and Wales as a distinct political community face an uncertain future.

Brexit, with all its expense and messiness is often compared to divorce. But marriage, the corollary of divorce, also has metaphoric possibilities: consider the initial commitment to the European project (and the betrayal of solidarity implied by Brexit); the ups and downs of economic fortune (is one there just for the good times?), the strained internal relationships within a growing family (the UK was the keenest on growing the family!); and the uncertain attraction of alternative lives (UK as Norway, Singapore, Turkey, Puerto Rico perhaps?). Those who ask at any particular time ‘Are we getting back as much as we pay in?’ ‘Which of the two, UK or EU, has the greater democratic legitimacy, the stronger concern with workers’ or women’s rights, the more neo-liberal (or more protectionist) policies, the better record on regional policy or on reining in multinational corporations?’ are aiming at changing targets, asking questions which remain of a secondary order while the long-term relationship lasts. The primary question is of an existential kind: all things considered and over time, is this the unit within which we can can best make the future and address all those other questions?

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