Saturday, January 07, 2017

UK will re-engage with the World.

Back to Westminster tomorrow. Next three months is a key period in British history, equivalent to the early stages of British withdrawal from 'Empire' in middle of last century. Leaving the EU is that big. Daresay the politicians and public didn't realise they were part of such immense historic change then either. Not that there will be anything dramatic. That's not our Prime Minister's style. She is not going to be rushed by the desperate demands to satisfy the insatiable hunger of the 24 hr news cycle. How often does she have to say "No running commentary". One way or another, Article 50 will be invoked by end of March. But won't be much negotiating til after French and German elections. Hopefully the EU will quickly agree to quarentee future residence for those EU migrants legally in the UK, and UK migrants legally in the EU. The EU is not prepared to discuss this issue until Article 50 is invoked. Andrea Leadsom, Sec of State at Defra tried to reassure the farming industry on this point last week. We're told the Prime Minister is due to give us some idea of her thinking next week. Personally I hope she won't be tempted to give much meat to the news hounds. Only make them bark louder.

But Brexit is not the substance on this blog. It's more how we as MPs react to Brexit. Will we be able to do much else over next three years! And what else will we do! Reason I'm thinking about this tonight is that I'm appearing on Radio Wales excellent programme 'Sunday Supplement' around 8.30 tomorrow morning. Expecting to be alongside Kevin Brennan  - a good 'common sense' Labour MP. Not certain what we're discussing but I think it's what we're expecting in the House of Commons in the year ahead. For me, and most Welsh MPs, the next few weeks will be focussed on the Wales Bill. Hoping that will be done and dusted before end of February. If not, it might not make the Statute Book at all!! But what about after that.

We will inevitably be driven by the implications of leaving the EU. We must turn up the volume on strengthening the Welsh economy. A key part of any strategy must be to re-engage with the non-EU world. The Wales Office and Welsh Government must work closely together as 'Team Wales' to promote our nation across the world, and to attract more investment into Wales. We need a focus on business development and job creation. The US must be a key target if the new President cuts red tape and taxation as he has said he will. The US economy will be on fire. And we'll need to target the other big growing economies - China, India, and using the Wylfa link to engage with Japan. And there's Australia, Canada. South Korea, Taiwan etc.. In the early 90s, around 20% of foreign investment into the UK came to Wales. Won't reach those heady targets again, but we do need ambition and investment in selling Wales to the non-EU world, which has not been what it should have been for a very long time. Wonder if Kevin will agree with that.

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