The Conservatives won the election, and now we plan to deliver for farmers. We’re also working hard on removing Labour from office in Wales, says Andrew RT Davies, Welsh Shadow Rural Affairs Minister.
The country has spoken, and emphatically so, delivering the biggest Conservative mandate since 1987.
People rejected the hard-left Corbynista agenda and told politicians they wanted their votes respected.
In 2016, people voted to leave the European Union.
In 2017, the two main parties said they’d respect the result and deliver Brexit, which resulted in increased vote share for both the Conservatives and Labour.
In 2019, only the Conservatives committed to respecting the referendum.
And the result? A stonking majority and vindication for Boris Johnson and his vision for Britain.
This was very much a victory for Boris Johnson, who led from the front during the campaign.
But while this provided a significant Tory win, I can’t help but feel democracy in this great country was the real winner.
In Wales, we returned a joint-record 14 Conservative Members of Parliament, from Ynys Mon in the North to Bridgend in the South.
Rural communities across Wales endorsed our plans for the country and the People’s Government now has a responsibility to deliver a better future for our country, starting by getting Brexit done.
During the Queen’s Speech, the Government outlined its plans to start repaying the trust placed in the Conservatives and delivering on people’s priorities.
In our industry, this starts with the return of the Agriculture Bill which will reform British agriculture by improving environmental protections and strengthening transparency and fairness in the supply chain.
Our manifesto committed to not extending the implementation period beyond 31 December 2020 and the new Withdrawal Agreement Bill will legally prohibit Government agreeing to any extension.
Conservatives have been steadfast in recognising the will of the people, and we’ll look to unite the country by securing a trading partnership which provides key access to our European markets and protects jobs.
There are plenty of ways to avoid a World Trade Organisation (WTO) cliff edge in December 2020 without having completed a free trade agreement.
The dangers aren’t as stark as a no-deal exit, as various patches can be negotiated.
Moving to a new partnership will help our commitment to level up all parts of the United Kingdom – and getting our deal over the line will enable us to give new support to people in our rural communities.
The deal will free farmers from the overly bureaucratic Common Agricultural Policy, and to support the transition to a new system we have guaranteed the current annual budget to farmers in every year of this Parliament.
We also need to nail down the details for future UK frameworks, which is vitally important for everyone in farming.
One of the great opportunities of Brexit is the chance to lead the world in the quality of our food, agriculture and land management – driven by science-led, evidence-based policy – something which has often been lacking under CAP.
Farmers will also play a crucial role in helping us reach a realistic target of net zero by 2050, and we’ll seek to assist them on this journey with significant investment in clean energy solutions and green infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and pollution.
Brexit provides us with the chance to do things differently, and looking ahead to the 2021 Welsh Assembly Election, we’ll use this freedom to reset the environmental protection, regulation and maintenance of natural resources throughout Wales, which has failed our industry.
We will ensure Government departments and organisations are delivering value for money for the taxpayer, and are listening to our communities whilst making evidence-based decisions.
In all of these aspects, the main body, Natural Resources Wales, has systematically failed the people of Wales and that’s why it’s imperative we change course.
We’d spilt the current Welsh Government Environment and Rural Affairs department and create separate ministries to tackle climate change and drive forward economic prosperity in our rural communities, which has been so sorely lacking during the twenty years of Labour-run devolution.
During its near two decades in power, the Welsh Labour Government has been guilty of being asleep at the wheel and has constituently failed to deliver for rural Wales.
We have the highest rate of modulation in the UK, and the average age of farmers has consistently risen under the two-pronged policies of Welsh Labour – propped up by Plaid Cymru – and the European Union.
The income gap between English and Welsh farms continues to widen, and for too long, Welsh Labour have sat on their hands while longstanding issues such as bovine TB, a lack of access to finance, and a failure to support local procurement have held farmers back.
Labour’s red wall has collapsed and it’s now incumbent on us to deliver for the people and communities of Wales at both Westminster and Cardiff Bay.
And that’s why it’s vital we kick Labour out of power in Wales in 2021, so we can capitalise on the opportunities which will arise through Brexit and drive our country, and particularly our forgotten rural communities, forward.
Andrew can be found tweeting at @AndrewRTDavies