Whether an EU exit would leave Wales much better off as he claims is another question entirely – that depends on a lot more than the simple decision to leave, including the not insignificant question about the regional policy which any UK government would follow in those circumstances. But in essence, the economy of the UK in general, including Wales, would adapt over time to the new circumstances. That’s what economies do.
I find it strange at times that some of those who claim to believe that Wales could and would adapt to life outside the UK are so reluctant to accept that the same is true for the UK vis-à-vis the EU. In principle, it looks like a very similar argument to me. In both cases, there would be a period of transition as changes are made; but in both cases, all the experience of others suggests that the economy would adapt.
It underlines the dangers, yet again, of an argument for and against EU membership based first and foremost on economics. Such an argument is essentially unwinnable for either side. Those for staying in are forced to resort to the sort of scare tactics used by Project Fear in Scotland, and those for coming out are forced to make untestable assumptions about the policy decisions which would follow and their consequences. Voters end up having to decide whose set of assumptions to believe – or else make their decision on the basis of other factors.And that’s the real point here. The UK’s continued membership of the EU is fundamentally a political decision, not an economic one. It’s about the role we see for the UK in the wider world; and from a Welsh perspective, it’s about how we see the future development of Wales in either scenario. We can and will adapt economically to either future path, but they represent two very different futures. We can choose to be part of a multinational Europe-wide project or part of an isolationist UK. And that choice has very little to do with mere economics.