Who are the Candidates for the EU Elections in Wales?

Jonathan Lee

Whether you’re a ‘remoaneror a racist , on May 23rd you should probably think about voting in what could be the UK’s last EU Parliamentary Elections. This vote is your chance to show the Westminster establishment exactly what kind of Brexit you want, or don’t, as the case may be. Across the UK, battle lines have been drawn: in the one camp are the Greens, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrats and the new party Change UK, who are all calling for a second referendum on the Brexit deal, some want the option to remain in the EU on the ballot paper. On the other side are UKIP and Nigel Farage’s newly formed Brexit Party, who demand an immediate withdrawal from the EU without any deal on our future relationship being brokered. The traditional main parties, Labour and the Conservatives, float somewhere in the middle depending on which politician you listen to.

Wales is a single constituency in the upcoming elections, and will elect four Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to represent itself. To help you decide who you think best represents you, and your views on Wales’ place in the union (both the one on this island, and the one on the continent), here is a run down of some the main candidates to watch out for.

Welsh Labour

Candidate name Second Referendum? Leave / Remain in the EU
Jacqueline Jones Yes Remain

Jacqueline (Jackie) Jones is a Barrister and the Women’s Officer for Cardiff Central Labour Party. A self described “proud European and internationalist”, Jackie firmly believes Wales is stronger in the EU and that the best way to uphold our workers and union rights, fight climate change, and promote equality  is to remain a part of it. She says about the Brexit referendum: “As a former Professor of Law, I strongly believe in the rule of law and we now know that electoral law was broken in the referendum campaign and a criminal investigation is underway. We need to vote again.”

Matthew Dorrance Yes Remain

Matthew Dorrance is the Labour and Co-operative Party Councillor for his hometown of Brecon, as well as leader of the Powys County Labour Group. He is a staunch opponent of leaving the European Union, particularly without a deal. He says: “Leaving without knowing the terms of our exit, the impact on our economy, our security or our rights isn’t best for Britain or Wales. The deal presented by the Prime Minister doesn’t have the support of parliament or the people, and a ‘no deal’ exit would be catastrophic. The 2016 referendum result can’t be implemented.”

Plaid Cymru

Jill Evans Yes Remain

Jill Evans is one of the four MEPs currently representing Wales in the EU. Born in the Rhondda, she has held her seat since first being elected to the EU Parliament in 1999. Jill led Plaid Cymru for a number of years,  and has previously acted as the Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. She is the Vice-President of the Europe Free Alliance group in the present EU Parliament, and has served as a deputy and a member of various committees in the parliament working on issues such as Culture and Education, Transport and Tourism, and Agriculture. Jill highlights how much we get from the EU here in Wales compared to what we put in. She says: “Until our economic performance is raised significantly and some parts of the valleys cease to be among the poorest parts of Europe, this will continue to be the case.”

Carmen Smith Yes Remain

Carmen Smith is a young anti-Brexit campaigner who is heavily involved with the People’s Vote Campaign and the For Our Future’s Sake youth movement. She works in international development and was previously the Deputy President of the National Union of Students Wales. She was among the activists leading the People’s March in London earlier this year, and says: “if you’re as angry as I am about Brexit, make sure you vote Plaid Cymru. We are the only Remain party in Wales, and young people can win this election.”

Welsh Conservatives

Daniel Boucher No Leave

Daniel Boucher has been a charity worker active in the voluntary sector in Wales for the last twelve years. He stood as a candidate for Swansea East in the last General Election, and was also on the candidate list for the last EU elections in 2014 for the Welsh Conservatives. Daniel believes a second Brexit referendum is “simply not credible” and compares the 2016 result to that of the 1997 referendum which brought about devolved government in Wales: “When you have an election or referendum the rules have to be drawn up in advance and you cannot suggest that they are re-written and the election repeated just because you don’t like the outcome. The No Camp in Wales understood that in 1997 and the Remain Camp needs to understand it in 2016. Wales had to come together again as a nation again after 17 September 1997 and the no camp had to accept the decision and move on. It is true that on the doorstep one still encounters a significant number of people who deeply regret the decision but we have survived.”

Craig Lawton No Leave

Craig Lawton is Conservative District Councillor,  the Chair of the Tory Reform Group Wales, and has contested the seat of Swansea West for the Welsh Conservatives in both the 2017 General Election and the 2016 National Assembly Election. He works as a Senior Policy Advisor for the Welsh Conservatives and is also the Vice-Chair of Trustees for a Welsh charity supporting elderly people. Craig believes it is imperative that the Conservatives are represented in these EU Elections in order to “face down Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist dream” and stop Plaid Cymru from disrupting Brexit and breaking up the union of the United Kingdom. He is firmly against a second Brexit referendum and says “17.4 million votes to Leave are something that no Government or Prime Minister has come close to, not even Margaret Thatcher. That is why it is so important that we do leave the European Union as soon as is reasonably possible.”

UK Independence Party

Kristian Hicks No Leave

Kristian Hicks, originally from Bridgend, is the Head of Press & Communications for UKIP, after serving in a similar communications role for the party in the Welsh Assembly until last year. He has a corporate background in marketing and has worked for various companies, including IBM, as well as working abroad in Slovakia and Germany. Unsurprisingly, Kristian is calling for an immediate departure from the European Union, and is most certainly against a second confirmatory referendum on Brexit. Speaking at a rally in Newport, Kristian recently defended the far-right founder of the English Defence League, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon a.k.a Tommy Robinson, saying he is “certainly a rough diamond and certainly not perfect…But at the end of the day he has stood for certain things that need to be brought to the fore…”

Welsh Liberal Democrats

Sam Bennett Yes Remain

Originally from Reading, Sam Bennet moved to Aberystwyth to study European Politics in 2008. He has worked in Brecon on campaigns for the Liberal Democrats, was the longest running chair of the Welsh Young Liberals, and has worked at Swansea University in their international development office as well as the medical school where he is currently employed. Sam was elected to Brecon Town Council twice in 2015 and 2017. Dan campaigns locally and nationally on LGBTQ issues, as well as against the UK leaving the European Union.

Green Party of England and Wales

Anthony Slaughter Yes Remain

Anthony Slaughter is a long-time environmental campaigner from Penarth. He is the head of the Welsh wing of the Green Party and has campaigned locally against the scrapping of the Severn Bridge tolls, single use plastics, and for lower speed limits of 20mph in his area. Anthony has also been a vocal critic of the lack of affordable and social housing in Wales, and its knock on effects for society. He and his party see Brexit as  having the potential to be detrimental in the fight against climate change.

Brexit Party

Nathan Gill No Leave

Nathan Gill was a long-standing UKIP politician until December 2018 when he resigned from the party to join Nigel Farage’s single-issue Brexit Party. Nathan was born in Hull, where he has helped manage family owned businesses. He was elected to represent Wales for UKIP in the last EU Elections and remains one of Wales’ four MEPs, though now representing the Brexit Party.  He has run for local and National Assembly elections in Anglesey and North Wales. He has denied human responsibility for climate change, calls for reducing immigration, and for an immediate departure from the EU.

Change UK

Jon Owen Jones Yes Remain

For more than ten years, Jon Owen Jones served as the Labour and Co-operative Party MP for Cardiff Central. He was born in Maerdy in the Rhondda, and before becoming a politician was a comprehensive school science teacher and President for the National Union of Teachers in Caerphilly and Mid Glamorgan. He has also chaired the Forestry Commission’s National Committee for Wales. His new party was created by former Labour and Conservative MPs and seeks to remain in the EU by campaigning for a second referendum.