Those campaigning for the UK to remain in the EU have consistently warned that Wales would lose EU funding if we were to leave, whilst those arguing in favour of exit have countered that, if the UK did not need to pay large sums of money to ‘Brussels’, the UK government could pass the same funding directly to Wales. There’s an element of truth to both of those positions, but I’ve always thought that the first, which amounts to telling us that we can trust the EU more than we can trust the UK Government, was a curious line of argument for anyone in the UK Government to take.
At least one member of the ‘out’ brigade has changed tack somewhat in recent days. Priti Patel has pointed out that there’s no guarantee of EU funds for Wales after 2020 even if we remain in the EU. Whilst elements of her argument strike me as stretching credibility (Turkey a member by 2020? I don’t think so.), her basic point is sound; there can no more be any guarantee of continuing support fro EU funding than there can be of support from the UK Government.
However what really struck me was the response of the Labour MP, Stephen Doughty, who said “… that no other part of the UK benefits as much from EU membership as Wales does and there is no real reason for us to believe that will change.” That displays a remarkable lack of ambition, not to say a lack of faith in the Welsh (Labour) Government. The whole purpose of EU funding is to help Wales reach a similar level of economic activity and success as other parts of the EU; the funding is not supposed to be open-ended.I want Wales to get to a position where we no longer need such EU funding; I want governments in Wales and the UK to use the funding effectively and productively to bring about change. It’s clear that all the parties involved in spending EU funding have failed on that score to date, but when members of the governing party are telling us, in effect, that they see no reason at all to believe that they can ever achieve that, it merely underlines, yet again, the extent of their own failure.