Taking Stock

As in the business world, so for the rest of us, New Year is a time to take stock of the old year and look ahead to the new, with everyone wondering what 2019 holds in store for us, our families and community and those we hold dear. It is naturally also a time when we think of those who are no longer with us - and recall the part they have played in our lives, in our community or in our national life.

An unstable world

2018 has once again brought with it more than its share of challenges, difficulties and unpredictable events. Our world feels like an even more unstable place, where journalists abroad and others who have found refuge in our own country can be targeted and even killed, with the complicity of governments, some of which we count as trading partners.

Moment of Epiphany

In this context, our national stock take in these early January days must surely lead us to a moment of Epiphany on our country’s relationship with the European Union. The paramount importance of our trading relations with our closest Continental friends and neighbours, as manifested in the Single Market and the Customs Union and the free flow of labour that comes with it, could not be clearer than it has become in recent weeks. With the critical significance of our Mid Wales sheep and beef sector, retaining membership of both is central to our Welsh national interest and to the Powys economy. Having one of Europe’s largest livestock marts in our County, at Welshpool Market, is a stark reminder of this

Parliamentary paralysis and a People’s Vote

Decisions in Westminster and elsewhere in the coming weeks on Brexit will be critical in determining our future for decades to come. If Parliamentarians are incapable of coalescing around an outcome that secures our national interest, for this generation and the next, it is vital that the public give their informed consent to the next steps. If Parliament finds itself in paralysis, what started with the people, in the Referendum of 2016 should return to them this year, for a final say. Any deal rejected by Parliament should be on the ballot paper in a People's Vote, together with an option to Remain.

Healing the wounds and building mutual respect

Most important of all, in these fractious times, with families, communities and work places divided on these major issues, we all have a duty to listen, and to hear the opinions of those with whom we disagree. Had this whole painful process been conducted with greater mutual respect from the outset, some of its negative effects could have been avoided.

In this spirit, I wish you and your families a very Happy New Year – Blwyddyn Newydd Dda.

County Councillor William Powell

President, Welsh Liberal Democrats