Wales politics

Welsh Lib Dem leader presses case for new Brexit poll

Jane Dodds
Image caption Ms Dodds said other issues were being neglected with Brexit "dominating the agenda"

There must be a new referendum on any Brexit deal, the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats has insisted.

Jane Dodds told party supporters: "We demand a People's Vote and we will not waver in our stand."

Ms Dodds, who took on the role in 2017, also said Wales has the expertise to be a world leader in green energy technology.

She was speaking at the party's spring conference that took place in Cardiff on Saturday.

In her speech, Ms Dodds said the Liberal Democrats were "at the heart of a movement of millions to give the people the final say on the deal".

Ms Dodds took over the role from former Ceredigion MP Mark Williams.

Speaking to BBC Wales, she said that Brexit was "dominating the agenda" but there was a danger other "crucial issues were being neglected", including climate change, education and health inequalities.

On Brexit, she said: "Whatever's agreed we need to ensure that people are given the final say on Brexit with a People's Vote.

"Brexiteers and Remainers will not have voted for what's being put to parliament, the people must be given the final say."

Ms Dodds added: "It's such a shame to see MPs being labelled as traitors, accused of committing treason and seeing effigies of coffins being used as part of protests.

"I think we need to step back and put the debate on hold for 12 months so that we can take the heat out of it."

Image caption Kirsty Williams is the party's only elected member in either Westminster or Cardiff Bay

She also said it "wasn't too late to tackle climate change".

"We owe it to our children and grandchildren to make Wales the green energy technology hub for the whole of the UK. We have the expertise here," she added.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats currently have just one assembly member, no Welsh MPs and do not run any councils in Wales.

Ms Dodds acknowledged there was "much work to do" but she felt the party was on the up.

"We are growing from the grassroots up - we're finding that Remainers from both the Tories and Labour are coming to us," she said.

The Lib Dems finished fifth in Thursday's Newport West Parliamentary by-election.

'Poverty and disadvantage'

The party's only AM - Welsh Government Education Minister, Kirsty Williams - announced an additional £3.4m to extend the Pupil Development Grant.

The grant helps families cover the costs of school uniforms and sports kits, as well as equipment for activities outside of school.

Eligible families of year seven pupils will receive £200, instead of the current £125.

She said: "Breaking the cycle of poverty and disadvantage is paramount, and at the heart of our national mission to raise standards for all our learners.

"The additional money announced today will mean that more learners will be eligible for funding, and more money will be available for parents of children transitioning from primary to secondary, which as we all know can be an expensive time".

Analysis by Vaughan Roderick, BBC Welsh Affairs Editor

It was the former Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron who compared his party to cockroaches after a nuclear war, implying that however bad things get, the party always finds a way to survive.

That's always been true in the past of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and their predecessor parties who've been reduced to just one MP in Westminster on numerous occasions.

2017 though was the first election since the party was formed in 1859 when no representatives at all were returned to Westminster.

It's once formidable presence in local government has all but disappeared and the party's one representative in Cardiff Bay acts more or less in lockstep with Labour in return for a seat at the cabinet table.

Recovery isn't impossible, particularly in these febrile times.

However, there's precious little sign of it at the moment and the party's distinctive pro-European credentials don't appear to have attracted swathes of Remainers as they had hoped.

For now, the activists have little choice but to plod on, hoping that collapse of UKIP might open up some of the regional list seats in the 2021 assembly election.

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