Merfyn Thomas, the Vice Chairman of O.C.R.A. opened the meeting at 7.30pm., by welcoming David to the meeting organized by the Old Colwyn Resident’s Association. Some 50 local residents were present.
David commenced by congratulating Conwy County Borough Council on the new Council buildings at Coed Pella Road now in operation and the progress on the “Pure Fibre Zone” whereby free Wifi will be available to residents in Colwyn Bay and Rhos on Sea. This scheme would be a first in the U.K.
He had good reason to expect that those present would want to understand Brexit and the “Backstop”.
As a result of the 2016 Referendum the British people elected to leave the E.U. David Cameron, the Prime Minister at the time resigned soon afterwards, and Teresa May eventually assumed the post. In March 2017, notice was given to the E.U. that Article 50 would be activated commencing up to 2 years of negotiations on future relations between the E.U. and the U.K. these continued.
On 29th November 2018, David, in Washington DC at the time, received the 599 page draft agreement together with the 26 page political declaration. The Northern Ireland protocol; indicated that Northern Ireland would be effectively annexed to the E.U. and Customs Union and also the E.U. Court of Justice. This was unacceptable to parliament, and was rejected with the biggest majority in parliamentary history. The current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson is clear. We will leave on 31st October 2019, with or without a deal. Mr Johnson is to meet with Mrs Merkel and Mr Macron over the next 2 days. It is clear that both sides need a satisfactory agreement and David feels one will be achieved. Article XXIV of G.A.T.T. is a way forward, moving to a free trade agreement, which should be achievable, given that UK trade standards are compatible with those of the E.U.
The EU has a substantial trade surplus in terms of manufactured goods therefore it is in their interests that an agreement is reached rather than stubbornly sticking to the E.U.’s core principles at the cost of trade.
David invited questions from the floor.
In response to a question he explained that the Northern Irish border was far different in nature than that of Cyprus, in spite of being a border with Turkey, which is not a member.
He was asked why the government ignored the advice of experts who predicted a host of serious problems in leaving without a deal. David replied that it should be understood that there are people with vested interests who highlighted some issues. He gave the example of an expert whose views were little publicised, that of the manager of the port of Calais, who believes that they will easily overcome any problems. This should be compared to the massive problems predicted there by the media. David noted that 30 per cent of vehicles returned empty from the UK after delivering their loads and required minimum oversight.
Although Welsh farmers would face difficulties, he knows that there is a ready market for sheep in the Middle East, as one example. He agreed that there would be disruption, but this is largely exaggerated.
Apart from savings in our annual contributions to the E.U., £5 Billion each year would be recovered from tariffs. He questioned why we should pay the E.U. money, to receive in return considerably less to spend on projects in a manner dictated by Brussels.
A mother was concerned when was told by medical specialists that because of Brexit she can’t obtain the essential medicine for her child. David was equally concerned, and wondered why, when we currently remain a member of the E.U. He asked that she visit him the following day when he would pursue her problem. The N.H.S. was the biggest customer for insulin, much of which is made in Denmark. He found it difficult to believe they would turn their backs on such custom when there were other suppliers available.
There were concerns about drastic cuts to education funds which had serious consequences for our children. David explained that Education, along with health, was a top government priority for the new regime.
A member felt it was unfair that British soldiers were being pursued for alleged offences committed in Northern Ireland decades ago when I.R.A. offenders had been given letters of comfort as a result of the Good Friday agreement. David had, and would back those affected
Asked why the Welsh health Authority did not inform people that those who were told to attend hospitals in England were required to pay for parking at English hospitals. Parking is free at Welsh hospitals. He would look into this matter.
We had voted to leave the E.U. This remains E.U. law, International Law and the law of the U.K. The new government will ensure this is respected.
Asked if Boris Johnson would win a vote of no confidence, David felt that only the opposition could ask for this, and that was unlikely because Mr Corbyn lacked support in his own party, and the result could benefit the Brexit party.
The meeting closed at 9.00pm.