Column: 20th January 2017

This week I’ve been focussing on issues of fundamental importance to Wales. The Prime Minister’s pronouncement on Tuesday in favour of a “hard” Brexit will wreck the Welsh economy. It will also lead to a decade of instability which will dramatically reduce public expenditure and have dire consequences for our hospitals and schools. There is also the wider threat to rural areas like ours which have received so much support from the EU for training, investment and jobs. There was no assurance from Theresa May – and I note West Wales based Tory MPs have been especially quiet about ensuring we are properly funded in future. We should respect the result of the referendum, but there is more than one way to leave the EU and this so far looks to be one of the most damaging ways to exit for our country.

One area where we do have an opportunity as we leave the EU is how we manage Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs). Agriculture, the backbone of our rural economy, faces very considerable challenges in the context of Brexit. Farmers will be amongst those this will hit hardest financially which means a knock-on effect on food supply and prices. I have received many comments from local farmers on NVZs in relation to Pembrokeshire. I agree with a lot of what has been shared with me, in particular around additional costs being placed on struggling farm businesses and seasonal factors. I will continue to explore these options with Welsh Government.

You may have read a lot about the Wales Bill this week. I have spoken up for Wales in the House of Lords for the past few months to get the best deal and I supported the Wales Bill in the Assembly this week. Although it remains flawed and complex, I think this is the only deal we are likely to get in the foreseeable future. The Bill comes at a momentous time for our country – a time when our nation, our continent and the world seem more unpredictable than ever before. Although the Bill is far from ideal, it’s this or nothing. Because of our vulnerability as a nation at this point, the only responsible action is to support it. On the bright side, with the Wales Bill over, it means I will have even more time to carry on representing the views of voters across the region. It’s great to be properly home

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