Last Saturday, 23 coaches from Wales, including from West Wales, went to London to take part in the Put it to the People March in favour of a People’s Vote on whether we wish to leave the European Union. These campaigners joined over a million people from across the country including British citizens living abroad. Edward Sides walked from Swansea to London and others rode bikes from Sheffield to London.
There are many reasons why people support a People’s Vote and wish to remain in the European Union. For many, it is about the role the EU has played in supporting peace in Europe since the Second World War. We have also seen how the absence of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland has been a key part in the Irish Peace Process. For others, it is about the economic benefits of borderless trade across the continent. We know how important this is to West Wales with our Irish ferry links and the reliance of our farming communities on European trade.
For me, it is also about countries working together on areas of common interest such as the environmental challenges we face. Nothing is more challenging than Climate Change which threatens to destroy everything we hold dear. As part of the Coalition Government, Liberal Democrat Ministers were able to sit round the table with other EU Ministers and win the argument for tougher EU-wide targets to cut greenhouse gases. And by Britain leading in Europe, Europe could lead the world.
But the climate change crisis is so serious it demands even more action, now, - across Europe and in the United Nations. Already natural disasters such as cyclones are far worse due to the rise in sea levels. The suffering we are now seeing in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi will be repeated and repeated if we do not act.
This is why we have seen over a million young people in the world going on strike for action on climate change on March 15 inspired by the 16 year old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg. Young people will have to face the disaster of global warming unless we take action now.
In these perilous times, the last thing Wales and Britain should do is turn inwards. We need to embrace Europe and the world to solve our shared challenges. We are stronger together. Co-operation always beats isolationism.