Wales politics

Parties wrong to let UKIP 'steer' agenda, says Wigley

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Media captionLord Wigley defied his party in the 1970s by campaigning in favour of staying in the then EEC

Former Plaid Cymru leader Lord Wigley has attacked the three main UK parties for allowing UKIP to "steer the political agenda".

In a speech in Merthyr Tydfil on Friday he later warned that leaving the EU would be disastrous for Welsh industry.

He said that it would destroy structures to tackle climate change.

Lord Wigley urged voters to "seriously hesitate" before backing "such a nihilistic course of action" in the European elections on 22 May.

Before the speech, he accused UKIP members of wanting to "turn their backs on Europe" and said he therefore understood their desire for a referendum.

But he said: "I don't want Wales, or Britain, to pull out of the EU.

"As I understand it, neither does Mr Cameron want the UK to pull out of the European Union; nor does Mr Miliband; nor does Mr Clegg.

"So why on earth is such a disastrous course of action - which would destabilise our industry, destroy the structures needed to deal with climate change, and be a total side-track from the major challenge of getting out of debt - being considered?

"Why is the UK political agenda dancing to the tune of a party which has never won a single MP at Westminster?"

Describing UKIP as a single-issue party, Lord Wigley said its answer to every question was to "press the self-destruct button on European unity and co-operation".

He warned: "Unless Welsh voters are totally convinced in their own minds that they want to destroy the structures that have helped to ensure peace between the EU partners for most of our lifetimes, they should seriously hesitate before channelling their frustrations about aspects of European policy, into such a nihilistic course of action."

Recent polls suggest Plaid Cymru could face losing its only European seat, held by Jill Evans.

'Progressive'

In an interview with BBC Radio Wales, party leader Leanne Wood confirmed she was worried Ms Evans might not hold on to her place in the European Parliament, and appealed to Liberal Democrat and Green Party voters to "consider lending their support to Plaid Cymru".

"There is a concern that due to low turnout and the rise, generally across Europe, of right-wing isolationist parties that there is a risk to our seat," she said.

"The Liberal Democrats and the Greens have never won a European seat in Wales, and they're unlikely to this time."

Plaid's European election manifesto calls for skilled migrants, such as university lecturers and doctors, to be encouraged to move to Wales, under a "migration policy that meets Welsh needs".

The party's election pledges also include the creation of 50,000 Welsh jobs and better public transport links.

A list of all candidates and parties standing in the European elections in Wales on Thursday 22 May is available here.

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