Andrew Parkhurst – Welsh Liberal Democrat List Candidate for the European Parliament elections 2019
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 have lived in Flintshire since 1994 and am actively involved in the local community being trustee of various community organisations such Gŵyl Cilcain, Cilcain Show and Ysgol Y Foel PTA and have been successful in obtaining grant funding to assist these organisations in their activities and development.
In my professional life I qualified as a Chartered Insurance Risk Manager and have worked as an Underwriter and Risk Manager with particular focus on anti-bribery & corruption and conflicts of interest. My many years of business experience have taught me the importance of good governance and a well-run economy to enable businesses to flourish which in turn can provide well-paid, high-skilled jobs.
I have been elected President of both the Stratford-on-Avon and Liverpool Insurance Institutes. I also served at national level in The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), representing the interests of the local insurance communities in North Wales, the North West of England and the Isle of Man. I was awarded an Exceptional Service Award by the CII in 2017 in recognition of my work over many years to raise professional standards. In my rôle as an MEP I would lead the setting of high standards of corporate governance and professional standards across the EU as these help protect consumers, employees and the environment, and ensure businesses in Wales are not operating at a competitive disadvantage.
I have had articles published in the national press on a range of topics such as drugs and crime, climate change, genetic testing, stress, finance and capital, piracy, asbestos and risk management.
Q2 How did you vote in the EU membership referendum in 2016, and what are your thoughts on how the outcome of that vote have progressed?
I voted to remain in view of the benefits that membership of the EU brings to Wales and the wider international community (e.g. increased prosperity, security, workers’ rights, environmental protection etc).
The Conservative Government, aided by a fence-sitting Labour Opposition, has handled the Brexit negotiations with an extraordinary degree of incompetence.
The key mistakes made by the Conservatives and Labour were:
- invoking Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty to leave the EU without having a clear idea of how the UK’s future relationship with the EU would look like,
- failing to engage in cross-party negotiations before Article 50 was invoked in order to build Parliamentary support for a new relationship with the EU which would minimise the downside of leaving the EU and maximise the opportunities,
- massively underestimating the difficulties of maintaining a ‘soft’ border with the Republic of Ireland without being part of the Customs Union and Single Market, and failing to appreciate or acknowledge the impact on the Good Friday Agreement, with the consequent grave risks to the peace process, that any change to the border arrangements, might pose,
- failing to acknowledge the flaws in the 2016 Referendum which saw illegal funding, false promises made and those most affected by Brexit (i.e. non-UK EU nationals living in the UK, and UK nationals living in the rest of the EU) disenfranchised.
- failing to recognise that, once the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU had been negotiated, the deal should be put to the British electorate for ratification.
These unparalleled failings have resulted in the current deadlock which is harming our economy, hurting those who are struggling and making the UK a laughing stock internationally.
Q3 If elected what do you see your role as MEP entailing?
My role as a Welsh MEP would be to get the best deal for Wales, particularly in the following areas:
- Creating Prosperity – to increase the number of high-skilled, well-paid jobs as these are good for the individuals concerned and their families and also raise valuable tax receipts which enable public services – such as social housing, the Welsh NHS and education – to be adequately funded,
- Tackling the Climate Emergency – to lead the EU to set high environmental standards, in particular to improve air quality – 2,000 people each year across Wales are dying early because of air pollution (Source: Public Health Wales), and for Wales to be a world leader in the generation of clean electricity by pursuing EU funding opportunities to harness marine energy,
- Protecting our Public Services – the Welsh NHS, schools and social care all rely on staff from outside the UK. Freedom of movement, with appropriate controls to prevent abuse, is therefore essential.
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 have lived in Wales for 25 years and understand the challenges and opportunities faced by individuals, families and the local communities here. For 29 years I worked for the NFU Mutual Group which has given me an in-depth knowledge of the needs and concerns of farmers as well as the wider business community.
I have been regularly talking to constituents across the area for several years to understand the issues and problems that concern them.
My children have all been to the local state schools and my family all rely on the Welsh NHS for any medical issues that arise. I therefore have first-hand knowledge of what wonderful services these public bodies provide but I also understand the pressures and strains they are under.
Q5 What would be your personal priority if elected?
My personal priority will be to stand up for Wales – to take every opportunity to look after the interests of the people of Wales, to secure jobs, enhance environmental protection, protect public services, promote Welsh language and culture and to extend the Liberal values of openness, fairness, tolerance and decency.
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?
North East Wales relies heavily on manufacturing and engineering with the local economy being particularly vulnerable if these sectors are under pressure. Many of these firms, such as Airbus – widely regarded as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of British engineering trade – internationally and therefore need the minimum of barriers with their trading partners to operate efficiently.
The same goes for the region’s farmers who not only benefit from EU subsidies but also require tariff-free trading with the rest of the EU in order to trade competitively.
My responsibility as an MEP would be to ensure that the business environment in which these firms and businesses operate is conducive to their continued success, both in order to maintain their existing operations and to attract further substantial investment to increase the number of high quality jobs with all the benefits this will bring to the employees concerned and the wider community.
The UK’s future trading relationship with the EU is absolutely critical to the success of businesses here in North East Wales. I believe that the best deal with the EU is the arrangement that we currently enjoy. As an MEP I would therefore endeavour to maintain this current relationship and to refer back to the people any proposed changes to ensure that the decision is made with full knowledge of the facts of how the changes will affect individuals, their livelihoods and their families.
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?
Voters are never wrong.
But that doesn’t mean the electorate cannot change its mind when presented with updated facts and better information on how the implications of voting a certain way might affect them.
If we change our mind about voting for a particular candidate or political party in a normal election we only have to wait for a maximum of 5 years. Voting to leave the EU is different because it will affect us and our children and quite possibly our grandchildren for decades to come. We therefore owe it to these future generations to take great care in our decision and not to take it lightly.
We should also be mindful that no one born in this millennium had the opportunity to vote in the 2016 Referendum. Our young people will be more affected by leaving the EU merely because, on average, they will live longer to enjoy or suffer the consequences. It is therefore only right that young people who are now eligible to vote have their say in this decision.
Q8 Turnout is notoriously low in EU elections anyway, why should people vote in these elections?
This EU election has understandably been overshadowed by the Brexit debate. Everyone I have spoken to has a view on Brexit. Rightly or wrongly, the way people vote will be taken as an indication of which way they lean on this issue.
This is not just a matter of whether one wants to remain in or leave the EU though. It is also about what kind of country we want to live in, what opportunities we want for ourselves or for our children or grandchildren to live, work and engage with our nearest neighbours, what responsibilities we feel we have towards the less fortunate or those beyond our shores and the sort of values that we want to underpin our politics.
Anyone who cares about these things should vote on 23rd May. Every single vote counts in this election. There will not be a single wasted vote because every vote sends a message.
A vote for the Welsh Liberal Democrats is a vote to remain in the EU.
More than that though, it is also a vote for fairness and decency, and for the integrity of our nation.
The Liberal Democrats are a winning party. Vote Welsh Liberal Democrat!
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