“We need more recognition for women, and for women in Wales. We should be really proud of what we’ve achieved.
“That’s something Jo Cox stood for as a proud Labour feminist. She campaigned for women’s representation in the Labour Party and around the world. Jo was an example to us all.
“Jo’s energy, commitment and enthusiasm to support the most vulnerable and weakest in our society was inspiring. We must honour her memory through learning to respect each other’s opinions even if we disagree.
“I’ve been speaking about Brexit in recent days, and will be posing the question “Will Brexit be positive or negative for Welsh women?” at the Wales Assembly of Women Annual Conference 2017 on Saturday.
“As a woman politician who’s served at three levels of Government I have had a unique insight into the approach and mentality of those involved in the various bodies who have interacted with the EU and its institutions. One thing is clear – there will be far reaching legal, constitutional political, scientific environmental, security and social impacts to Brexit for decades to come.
“Our response to this crisis must be to ensure that it is the right kind of politics which wins out. I reject the threats and option of a politics which competes on a low corporate tax basis and an economic model which is left solely to the market. The only possible outcome from such an approach will be a reduction of the role of the state and the inability of the state to stand by those who are most vulnerable, the old the sick the less educated and the poor who will be thrown around in this great turbulence which is already engulfing us.
“I believe that means women in particular will face a greater burden. Hard-won employment rights are at risk, like maternity rights. And countless women in Wales undertake part-time shop work to pay the bills or to pay for those little extras. These women now have equal rights with their full-time colleagues thanks to the EU and we should not take these rights for granted: outside of the EU any future UK Government could take them away.
“I’m a Democratic Socialist – in that order. I’m unhappy with the lies and untruths that were told by the Brexit side during the debate – including the promises made to farmers, to the NHS, and to those living in our poorest communities who believed it when they were told that we could regain our “sovereignty” by leaving the EU, but I still think that we need to respect the result of the referendum and respect the democratic mandate of that ill-conceived referendum even if only 38% of the British population voted for it.
“As a Socialist I am concerned on so many levels. Concerned that the only state intervention we will see in future will be one where resources will be eaten up to clear up the almighty mess left by a party which sought to paper over the cracks in its ranks through a referendum which it assumed it would win. I am concerned that our ability to influence pressing global issues such as climate change, terrorism and mass migration after we have left the EU will be restricted and more than anything I am concerned that the people who will pay the greatest price for Brexit are those who are least able to afford it.
“My job as a politician is to listen, but also to stay true to my principles and beliefs. This is quite difficult balancing act when leaving the EU. And especially knowing this as a politician representing an area like Mid and West Wales that, economically, we will pay a big price for Brexit.
“I spoke at Aberystwyth University last week asking “Can Anything Positive Come Out of BREXIT?”. The answer must be that it is going to be extremely tough. Politics has triumphed over economics. Wales will suffer probably more than any of the other home nations because of our relatively high exports to the EU and because of our loss of European funding.
“Nevertheless we must try our best to turn this difficult situation into an opportunity. We must insist on a comprehensive reassessment of the internal constitution of the UK and demand an objective based regional funding formula based on need. We must come up with a pro-active interventionist economic policy and use the opportunity to break our long term dependence on the state and reinvent ourselves as wealth creators. We must use this time also to prepare for the next economic revolution with the onset of automation and ensure that we equip our people with a range of adaptable skills.
“None of this is going to be easy, I predict at least a decade of social and economic instability, but once Article 50 is triggered we will have no choice but to walk this difficult obstacle course.
“As Jo said in her maiden speech, “we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us”. That I believe is the only way to go forward”.