'Corrosive English nationalism' driving EU debate
“Corrosive English nationalism” is driving the debate on Britain exiting the EU and such a move would be a “disaster” for the Welsh economy, Wales’s first minister Carwyn Jones has said.
Scotland was also worried about the uncertainty the issue caused as it “threatened tens of thousands of jobs”, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s deputy first minister, told a conference of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce in Dublin yesterday.
Irish firms in Wales
“The question is why it is taking five years to resolve this question,” Mr Jones said, referring to British prime minister David Cameron’s announcement this week that a referendum on the issue would be held before 2018.
He said 500 firms in Wales exported to the EU with 150,000 jobs dependent on that trade.
There were 50 Irish firms based in Wales which generated 2,600 jobs with some of the major firms including Glanbia, Kingspan and Smurfit Kappa, he added.
Ms Sturgeon said the UK could be on a “collision course” over its EU membership but “that is not a journey Scotland’s government wants Scotland to take”. An independent Scotland was vital to avoid “leaving these decisions in the hands of the Westminster government”, she added. Scotland could then use taxes to encourage research and development and tackle inequality. Independence would also boost economic links and trade with Ireland.
Ireland ‘wrote the manual’
An independent Scotland in the EU would enable the country to protect its national interests. Ireland “wrote the manual” on how small nations could advance in the EU while protecting their interests and the author of that manual was Garret FitzGerald, she said.
Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton said Mr Cameron’s speech was a “pro-EU speech” since it set out the case for the UK’s continued membership of the union.
While Ireland had no right to tell the UK what to do, it had “every right” to say what the impact would be for the Republic and the rest of the EU.