'The Brexit bus has run out of fuel'. Those aren’t my words - they’re an eight-word tweet which this week went viral. And for good reason: Brexit chickens are now coming home to roost.

Merthyr Tydfil councillors recently expressed their fears for the future, having lost the EU funding from which they have benefitted over two decades. They face a huge void, as they now realise that those Brexit promises – that Westminster would replace EU funding for Wales – are worthless.

Merthyr Mayor Malcolm Colbran acknowledged how European money had made a massive difference for the county, saying: “How we’re going to replace this money, I don’t know. It makes me despair.”

Without such funding, vocational training and upskilling courses will end and support staff face losing their jobs.

This crisis is running across 15 Welsh counties who benefitted from EU “Objective 1” status and subsequent aid programmes. Europe was generous to Wales. We kicked the gift horse in the mouth.

We are now paying the price. The shortage of staff in our care homes, hospitals and hotels; crop-growers seeing their produce rot in the fields for want of seasonal gatherers; a shortage of vets hitting abattoirs and animal health services; and the loss of 15,000 European-based heavy goods drivers, generating the fuel crisis. That’s the price of Brexit.


I don’t blame individual Brexit voters for this monumental disaster. I blame myself, and other like-minded Remainers for not doing more to argue our case.

And I blame the pedlars of myths and half truths, fired up by racial prejudice, and a xenophobic media, who should have known better. I invite those who voted to leave to acknowledge that they were misled.

I also ask Wales’ leaders, who appreciate the economic disaster facing us, to speak out and not dither, waiting for visible fundamental change in public attitudes before putting their heads above the parapet.

This week, that doughty pro-Europe campaigner, Steven Bray, of Port Talbot, challenged Mark Drakeford to speak out on the disastrous impact of Brexit.

The First Minister’s reply was that he saw “no evidence” that the public attitude towards Brexit had changed.

I greatly respect Mark Drakeford, but this response was disappointing. Our leaders are elected to give a lead; and our First Minister should do so.

The way to deal with this is not to re-run the Brexit referendum arguments because, quite frankly, I doubt whether our European partners would ever want 'Perfidious Albion' back in the EU.

We must bring forward a third way, which ameliorates the worst consequences of Brexit. That might mean a Norway-type free trade agreement, which accepts the movement of people, without being tied to every aspect of the EU.

Such a relationship would overcome Northern Ireland’s trade problems, and safeguard Welsh agriculture and industry, who sell to the European market.

The Brexit bus may be out of fuel and heading for the political scrapyard but Brexit has happened and won’t be reversed. We now need a new, positive relationship to Europe. And we need politicians with the courage to lead us in that direction.

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