Jane Dodds’ maiden speech

Jane Dodds has had an extraordinary introduction to Parliament. Yesterday she took her seat in the Commons, leading in Phillip Lee as he crossed the chamber.  Today she gave her maiden speech in the Brexit debate.

This is what she said:

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

May I start by paying tribute to my predecessor, Mr. Chris Davies.

He worked hard for our local communities, raising awareness on the difficult issue of mental health and suicide in our farmers.

I thank him for his service.

Chris followed hard on the heels of the highly respected Liberal Democrat MP, Roger Williams. Roger’s are large boots to fill and if I can even partially match his passion, service and commitment, I shall be very pleased.

It is a huge pleasure to represent Brecon and Radnorshire, one of the most beautiful constituencies in the country.

It is also the largest constituency in England and Wales – something that I’m sure some Members here will have discovered during the recent by-election when searching for another elusive farmhouse up yet another long and scenic track.

Brecon and Radnorshire is home to strong and resilient communities, some of which are Welsh speaking.

Sadly, many of the libraries, banks and post offices in these communities have closed in recent years, but despite this, there is a real joy for life in the old counties of Radnorshire and Brecknockshire (as well as a healthy rivalry between them) that makes sure the mid Wales spirit (yr ysbryd) is alive and well.

Many Members here will have had the luxury of making their maiden speeches in the weeks and months following a General Election, looking forward to many years of a full Parliamentary term ahead. Mine couldn’t be in more different circumstances…

On the night of the by-election, I promised the people of Brecon and Radnorshire that I would tell the Prime Minister, wherever he may be, exactly why a no-deal Brexit would be damaging for my constituents.

Well I am delighted that my very first vote as the MP for Brecon and Radnorshire last night was to help Parliament take back control of the agenda and do everything possible to prevent us leaving the EU without a deal – including speaking in this debate today!

When it comes to a no-deal Brexit, we need to stop talking in terms of the hypothetical and the theoretical and we need to start talking with candour about the real and damaging consequences it would bring.

A no-deal Brexit would be damaging for everyone in my constituency, but particularly for the people who are the lifeblood of Brecon and Radnorshire – the farmers.

Welsh farmers export 40% of their lamb. Over 90% of that goes to Europe. Currently, if farmers in Brecon and Radnorshire export to the EU, export tariffs are zero.

A no-deal Brexit would mean 48% tariffs on lamb exports. This would risk putting farmers in Brecon and Radnorshire and right across Wales out of business.

I will be using my votes today to ensure that a no-deal Brexit is avoided as that would be catastrophic for the people of Brecon and Radnorshire.

Whether people voted Remain or Leave, they did not vote for a no-deal Brexit that would make them poorer.

They did not vote for long waits for life-saving medicines.

And they did not vote for a decline in our country’s environmental standards.

Mr Speaker, I am extremely privileged to be able to serve the wonderful people of Brecon and Radnorshire and shall do my utmost to be an MP they are proud of.

 

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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