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Opinon: Matthew Paul

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EU Referendum

Well, you did it, you bastards. You won. At 11pm today, the UK will have left the European Union.


This hasn’t occasioned the cataclysm that –until 13 th December– the turbulent Brexit process might have led us to expect. The weeks since Boris Johnson’s thumping majority made Brexit an inevitability have been an anticlimax on the scale of The Godfather Part III.


Three and a half years of high political drama have ended in six weeks of Brexit bathos.


On Wednesday, our representatives in the European Parliament packed up their desks, emptied their lockers and –heavy of heart and misty of eye– signed off their final, Brobdingnagian claims for expenses. Pro-EU MEPs linked arms, waved EU flags and sang a maudlin rendition of Auld Lang Syne. In return, EU president Ursula von der Leyen told the UK she loved us and always will.


The love-in lasted about three minutes, until Nigel Farage, flanked by his gang of gruesomes, stood up to crow. In the graceless and disruptive manner he has diligently maintained over twenty years in the Parliament, Nigel rubbed fellow MEPs’ noses in the Brexit Party’s mess until the mike was switched off. Then his cohort started waving little Union flags so
enthusiastically you might have assumed Prince Harry had come back. Divorced.


The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 passed through Parliament without a murmur of disapproval, a court case, any perversions of Parliamentary procedure or even a self-indulgent ORRRRDDEEEEEERRRRR from the excellent and austere new Speaker,
Lindsay Hoyle. At sundown, EU flags will be taken down from public buildings around the UK and furled forever, in a melancholy echo of the last time Britain’s influence in the world seriously declined. All except in that bastion of Brexit resistance, the Scottish Parliament, where Nicola Sturgeon –under what legal authority it is unclear– has decreed that the
twelve stars will stay put. Mark Francois no doubt imagines himself jogging up to Edinburgh with a crack TA troop to tear it down from Holyrood in a reverse Iwo Jima.


South of Hadrian’s Wall, the mood amongst Remainers is one of defeated realism. Re- joining on the terms available to accession countries is not a serious option; the EU has gone and it ain’t coming back. Even Plaid Cymru –after getting utterly pasted in December’s election, largely because their ur-Remainy stance went down like a cup of cold sick in the valleys– aren’t clinging to dreams of readmission to the continental club.


Now, having got your damned Brexit, you now have to work out what to do with the thing.

What was the point of leaving the EU? There are some fairly compelling reasons to be out of Europe if you incline to the Corbynite hard left, because the Commission always had unhelpful things to say about confiscatory taxation and state aid for lame duck nationalised industries. Get Brussels out of the way and you are only a few strands of barbed wire and an
empty supermarket away from the usual sort of socialist paradise.


On the right, the intellectual arguments of economically liberal Brexiters have always had force. There can and will be advantages to an economy where barriers to free trade are removed, where business is freer to hire and fire, and where innovation in our tech, pharmaceutical and agri-business sectors is not restrained by regulation which adheres too closely to the precautionary principle. Intellectual arguments are all very well, but the difficulty is that this hasn’t typically been the kind of economy or society around which a political consensus has settled.


Before the General Election, in a political landscape where a powerless Prime Minister was bossed around by a hopelessly divided Parliament, it was hard to expect that much could be achieved by leaving the European Union. Now, we have a PM more powerful than any British politician since Tony Blair in 1997; with just as much of a mandate to change the country.

To benefit economically from Brexit, he will have to be prepared to do things that are very, very unpopular.


Round these parts, things that damage the livelihoods of farming communities are likely to be pretty unpopular. But this week we saw Boris inviting a stampede of half-starved, flystruck Ugandan cows into the UK meat market. “I have just told President Museveni of Uganda” he said –following a conversation quite different from the sort of Ugandan
discussions with which our Prime Minister is usually associated– “that his beef cattle will have an honoured place on the tables of post-Brexit Britain.” What is good news for herdsmen around Kampala won’t be so well-received in Knighton, Keswick or Kirkaldy.


Boris will also have to decide whether we are a country closer to Europe or America. If we choose the latter, and unless the US Democratic Party seriously ups its game, we will be saddled with another four years of having The Donald as our psychopathic cell mate in a prison we built for ourselves. It’s in our interest to keep him happy, but this week’s decision to allow Huawei –the tech equivalent of coronavirus– to supply hardware for Britain’s 5g mobile networks was like carelessly reaching for the remote control in the middle of one of Trump’s favourite TV shows. There are worrying noises coming from the top bunk, as of someone sharpening a shiv to use on us in the first round of post-Brexit trade talks.


So, residents of workless Labour-voting constituencies in South Wales; farmers who didn’t like filling in the subsidy forms; anyone who hates being bossed around by foreigners but doesn’t count Donald Trump amongst their number. You voted for it. You got it. It’s here.


Enjoy it; it’s going to be a wild ride.

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Three men arrested over charity box and cafe thefts

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THREE men are being questioned by police in connection with a burglary in Llanelli this weekend.

A cash register containing around £1,500, a charity collection box, and approximately £1,000 worth of stock were stolen from Marzano’s Café Bar in Cowell Street in the early hours of Sunday, February 16.

Today (Tuesday) three men aged 35, 39 and 27 were arrested on suspicion of burglary.

Chief Inspector Chris Neve said property searches were also being conducted in the Llanelli area as part of the investigation.

“I would like to reassure the community of Llanelli that we take incidents like this extremely seriously,” said Chief Inspector Neve.

“I would also like to thank everyone who has come forward with information so far.”

Café owner Andrew Marzano said: “I am extremely grateful to Dyfed-Powys Police for their efforts since we reported the incident to them. 

“I am also extremely grateful and humbled to the local community as we have had hundreds of messages of support from far and wide.”

Anyone with further information that could help police should contact 101, quoting reference DPP/0005/17/02/2020/01/C.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired you can also text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Dyfed-Powys Police appeal following Llanelli road traffic collision

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Dyfed-Powys Police is appealing for information following a road traffic collision which occurred at approximately 12.15am, this morning, Tuesday 18th February, 2020.

A black Audi A4 estate and a pedestrian were involved in the collision on Station Rd, Llanelli. The pedestrian was taken to hospital with what are described as serious injuries.

Anyone who witnessed the collision, anyone who has information regarding the collision or information relating to the occupant of the vehicle is urged to contact the Serious Collision Investigation Unit quoting reference DP-20200218-006.

Police can be contacted by phoning 101, online at http://bit.ly/DPPReportOnline, or by email. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.”

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Lee Waters AM meets with prize winning students

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LOCAL Member of the Senedd Lee Waters visited Coleg Sir Gar to meet with prize winning students on Friday.

Three students from the college have won prestigious medals in the UK leg of the World Skills championship. WorldSkills UK Live is the UK national final for vocational skills competitions and brings together apprentices and young people from across the four nations to compete to world class standards in their chosen fields.

Llanelli’s Kieran Davies won a gold medal in the IT Support Technician category. Anwen Evans won a bronze in the health and social care category after being judged for how well she dealt with a patient with autism in a mock flat, and Lewis Hall won a Gold for woodworking.

Lee Waters MS said:“I was very impressed by the achievements of these award winning Coleg Sir Gar students beating off stiff competition from across the UK to win medals at the UK leg of the world-wide WorldSkills championship.

“It’s huge credit to them and their tutors for these real achievements.”

Pictured are Kieran Davies (wearing Red), Lewis Hall (wearing chequered shirt), Anwen Evans, Lee Waters MS and Andrew Cornish of Coleg Sir Gar

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