Below is our candidate Q&A – we have approached all parties asking them to circulate our questions to candidates – you can see more replies and details on the election on Wrexham.com/european-elections-2019/ ! All answers are from the candidates and are unedited.
Q1 Are you able to tell us a little about who you are, and what skills you can bring to the MEP role?
I grew up in Pembrokeshire and then studied for a Degree in History at Bristol University. This was followed by a Diploma in Personnel Management at Bristol Polytechnic and a career in Human Resources within the Electricity Supply Industry in Bristol and Gloucester (mainly in Employee Relations). This started off in the public sector with the South Western Electricity Board and the Central Electricity Generating Board and then the private sector with British Energy. I now work as a part time English teacher at Herefordshire, Ludlow and North Shropshire College.
I served for 12 years on Cheltenham Borough Council (including Leader of the Council) and 5 years on Gloucestershire County Council.
This has given me wide experience of the public and private sectors, local government and education which I can bring to the MEP role. As a councillor I helped to attract funding and support for the area I represented and worked on behalf of my constituents.
I am learning Welsh and am at Canolradd level.
Q2 How did you vote in the EU membership referendum in 2016, and what are your thoughts on how the outcome of that vote has progressed?
I voted to remain. Since then, the government has not been able to get sufficient support for a withdrawal deal through Parliament.
I believe withdrawing from the EU was sold as a simple Yes / No proposition to the British public in 2016, when in reality it was far more complicated. The other EU countries are our closest neighbours and we enjoy frictionless trade with them. Without this frictionless trade (through membership of the Customs Union and Single Market) our economy will suffer and we will lose jobs. The government has tried to negotiate a deal outside the Customs Union and Single Market but it is not possible to negotiate as good a deal as that which we currently enjoy as members of the European Union.
The Irish Peace Process relies on free movement and trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This has not proved possible if we move outside the Customs Union and Single Market. Failure to solve this problem has doomed the government’s attempts to get a withdrawal deal through Parliament.
Q3 If elected what do you see your role as MEP entailing?
Working to ensure all of Wales gets the benefits of EU membership through free and fair trade across the EU. This involves ensuring Welsh and British businesses get fair access to trading opportunities and Wales gets our fair share of EU funding to support our infrastructure, agriculture, tourism and economy.
EU funding can be used to support communities which have experienced difficulties and can help with training and retraining. My role is to access as much of this funding as possible for the benefit of Wales.
I will also represent individual constituents where they have issues with the EU.
Q4 You are standing for the ‘Wales region’, how have you engaged with constituents to ensure you understand their issues to then represent them?
I grew up and live in Pembrokeshire and have been the Leader of Pembrokeshire for Europe which is part of Wales for Europe. Wales is a diverse country with industrial areas such as Wrexham and Deeside and parts of South Wales as well as rural areas. I will need to represent all areas and will travel round Wales and meet constituents in order to gain a greater understanding of the many issues.
Q5 What would be your personal priority if elected?
As a trading nation Wales relies more than any other part of the UK on its EU membership and has the most to lose if we leave. My main priority will be to work with others to secure a People’s Vote and to campaign to remain within the EU.
I will also work hard on behalf of Welsh constituents to represent their interests in the European Parliament and to make Europe work for them.
Q6 Wrexham / Deeside are in the north east of Wales, what are the key issues relevant to your possible position as MEP, and what will you do about them?
Manufacturing and engineering are very important to the future of Wrexham and Deeside. Airbus and other companies rely on frictionless trade within the EU for the supply of parts and for sales. The best option for Welsh industry and jobs is to remain within the EU. I therefore believe that if the Prime Minister manages to negotiate a deal to leave the EU, this should be put to the British public in a referendum which includes the option of remaining in the EU.
Q7 You are standing to be part of something Wales on the whole, and Wrexham and Deeside also voted to leave, were the majority of those who voted wrong?
In 2016 we were given a binary choice: should we remain or leave? We were not given any details about the terms for leaving because there were no terms. I therefore believe, once we have some departure terms, these should be put before the British public in a referendum which should include the option of voting to remain.
Q8 Turnout is notoriously low in EU elections anyway, why should people vote in these elections?
I think turnout will be higher this time. Brexit has dominated the news and many will use this election to give their verdict on Brexit. Many will vote for the Liberal Democrats as the largest party which wholeheartedly supports a People’s Vote and wants to remain in the EU.
Once elected, the MEPs will have important jobs including selecting the European Commissioners. The MEPs will have a busy job in representing Wales in the new European Parliament. The EU is vital to Wales and we need good MEPs to ensure our interests are well represented.
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