Andrew RT Davies AM is the Welsh Conservative Leader and Assembly Member for South Wales Central.
“You can trust me to deliver” was the call from the Prime Minister in her article for the Sunday Times on the weekend. And as a country, and as a party, there’s no reason to doubt her.
With less than a year to go until our exit from the European Union, nearly three quarters of the terms of our departure are locked down and that’s testament to the hard work and achievements of Theresa May and her team. From day one in the job, she’s been steadfast in outlining her vision for Great Britain.
When voting to leave, the people of Wales and the United Kingdom sent a clear signal that they wanted to take back control of our money, trade, laws and borders.
The Prime Minister has set out a plan respecting all of these wishes, whilst rightly balancing the legitimate concerns of those on both sides of the Brexit debate.
Because let’s be clear: we will leave the Customs Union and Single Market. We will take back control of our money, laws and borders. As Brexiteers, what more can we ask for?
Yes, in an ideal world, I’m sure we’d have all loved to have packed up on day one and waved goodbye to Mr Juncker and his band of merry men but, sadly, politics isn’t quite that simple.
We can’t afford to be a roadblock to the country’s progress in these negotiations, and rather than adhere to the ‘gammon’ phenomena some are now so desperate to attribute to those who voted Brexit we have to remember how we got here!
The referendum was won through a campaign of positivity, energy, and enthusiasm. Both young and old joined in a desire to see the United Kingdom take back control of our future destiny.
In Wales, despite differing views, our party has remained united and worked together to navigate through potential roadblocks. I have to give immense credit to my team, which has come together in the national interest and worked to ensure the Withdrawal Bill has secured support from a majority in the National Assembly.
As we meet for our annual Welsh Conservative conference in beautiful West Wales tomorrow, it’s this unity that will be the cornerstone of our bid to form part of the next government in Wales come 2021.
We can’t afford Brexit to detract from domestic delivery and after two decades of Labour rule in Wales. We need to outline an ambitious new vision of change and that’s why today, we’ve set out our plan to build 21st-century towns and cities in Wales.
Our strategy for urban renewal aims to deliver a living environment in Wales which is fit for the modern era.
Welsh cities have so far missed out on the significant economic growth of other metropolitan areas across the UK – including London, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh – but the advent of regional growth deals in Cardiff and Swansea provide new opportunities whilst also presenting a significant challenge to planners.
The document, entitled ‘Liveable Cities – A Strategy for Welsh Urban Renewal’, introduces 25 policy proposals to transform our urban environments. The policies are conceived with the short-, medium- and long-term in mind, and address four key themes: Lifestyle, Transport, Housing and Design.
Whilst for many the image of Wales would be one of green and pleasant lands, the reality is that the majority of people – over 70 per cent – reside in our urban centres. This percentage is only likely to increase and that’s why we have put down our plan to ensure Wales’ towns and cities, from the North to the South, are fit for the future.
Our proposals include making Cardiff the UK’s first Carbon Neutral City, piloting a city-wide single-use plastics ban, whilst ensuring publicly-owned urban brownfield sites will be provided at a discount to develop Urban Eco Quarters – housing developments with shared gardens, which are high density, sustainable and provide for a mixture of tenures.
It’s vital for our future success that we are a party which represents and talks for all areas of Wales – not simply our traditional heartlands. As we’ve also seen in England, cities and big urban centres have proved a challenge over recent electoral cycles and that’s why we need to make sure we are talking about and addressing the issues which are impacting on people’s everyday lives.
And at Westminster, if we are to deliver on all fronts, both at home and abroad, it’s vital the noise around Brexit is dialled down a notch. The referendum is over, and so too is the time for chasing headlines. People across the country are sick to the back teeth of political posturing, briefing here, and undermining there.
It’s time to shape up, get behind the Prime Minister, and deliver on the wishes of the people – on Brexit but also on the domestic challenges of the day.
Because if we don’t, the end result sees socialism finding a home through the backdoor at 10 Downing Street, something I’m sure no ‘True Blue’ – if you’re based in Wales or elsewhere in the United Kingdom – wants to see.