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‘Boris will provide us with the energy and leadership to break the Brexit deadlock’

Boris is best-placed to pick up the baton and ensure we get a deal for Britain which keeps our economy strong, moves the country beyond Brexit, and brings back control, says Welsh Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs Andrew RT Davies.

Well there we have it folks! After an intense leadership contest lasting just over a month, Boris Johnson came out on top with a resounding victory.

 

Putting the prospect of any parliamentary shenanigans to one side, Boris will now move forward to take up the position of Prime Minister, and the first job in the in-tray is of course delivering on the referendum mandate of 2016.

 

As I outlined in my previous Brexit Hub column, I strongly believe that Boris will provide us with the energy, vision, and leadership to break the Brexit deadlock; bring the change that people want; and get the UK back on the road to a brighter future.

 

The only way to bring the change people voted for in the referendum – strengthening our public services with increased frontline spending – is to get Brexit out of the way by October 31.

 

Deal

 

Boris was best-placed to pick up the baton and ensure we get a deal for Britain that keeps our economy strong, moves the country beyond Brexit, and brings us back control and power over key areas such as agriculture, which people voted for.

 

The campaign was fiercely fought, and it was pleasing to see agriculture and the environment featuring prominently, which you would not have seen in other party leadership contests.

 

Boris has committed to replace funding for devolved nations and pledged that rural communities will be central to kick-starting the British economy after we leave the European Union on October 31.

 

He has secured a convincing mandate from the party and I only hope colleagues within the parliamentary ranks sit up and take note, and unite behind Boris as divided parties will not succeed and will certainly not win elections. The hard work starts now.

 

Ill-prepared

 

And in Wales, work seems to be distinctly lacking from a Labour Government that continues to sit on its hands.

 

Before the Welsh Assembly packed up for recess last week, the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, outlined a rather drab legislative programme for the forthcoming year.

 

Regrettably, the statement contained no reference to future legislation for agriculture or the environment in Wales, which was staggering given Brexit is on the horizon.

 

Wales is suffering at the hands of a very urban-centric government that has run out of steam and is ill-prepared, or unwilling, to capitalise on the opportunity to turbocharge our rural communities by devising policies made in Wales which deliver for agriculture for the first time in decades.

 

Dedicated responsibility

 

But whilst they stand idle, Welsh Conservatives have this week unveiled a number of measures we would seek to deliver a vibrant rural economy across the country.

 

Coinciding with the 100th Royal Welsh Show – the greatest and best agricultural show in the land – we announced that a Welsh Conservative government would install a minister with dedicated responsibility for developing our rural economy and ‘rural proofing’ all government policy moving forward.

 

For too long, the economic needs of our rural communities have fallen through the cracks and we had put that right, ensuring it was front and centre of the government’s priorities.

 

Such a post has delivered dividends in Scotland, and would help close the prosperity and opportunity gap which currently exists, and ensure we develop a rural economy in Wales that is fit for the future, where young people can stay and thrive.

 

Support

 

The incoming Prime Minister has also committed to ensure super-fast broadband reaches every home and business in the land by 2026 so we can ensure Wales’s rural communities are resilient and ready for the 21st century.

 

We can and have to do more to improve support for agriculture in this country, increase support for young people to enter the farming industry, whilst also getting a grip on underutilised areas of the rural economy such as the forestry sector and our other outstanding natural resources.

 

And one of the first acts for such a Minister should be the convening of an urgent Green Economic Summit.

 

We have to be up front and honest with people in Wales, as the fight against climate change is going to result in huge changes to traditional ways of life in Wales, particularly as we transition from a carbon-heavy economy to a new green way of working.

 

Ambitious

 

Agriculture currently accounts for around 12 per cent of emissions and to their credit, farming unions are putting in place ambitious plans to reach carbon-neutral targets, but the Welsh Labour Government has a fundamental role to play to ensure people, businesses and industries are taken and supported on this journey.

 

To date, there has been an alarming lack of detail and the Welsh Government must rectify that immediately, otherwise we risk losing hearts and minds in this key fight.

 

Labour’s support of rural Wales continues to wane and Conservatives – both at Westminster and Wales – want to put these issues back at the top of the agenda – where they belong.

 

Brexit presents us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reboot our rural communities and key sectors – and we cannot afford to let it slip through our fingers.

 

Andrew can be found tweeting @AndrewRTDavies


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