The year ahead – last week’s column

As 2016, a year of great political change and upheaval, draws to a close, I am going to use this week’s column to look at the year ahead. I suspect 2017 will continue to be marked by questions regarding an early general election. I personally believe that yet another vote is exactly what the British public do not want nor need.

However we will of course have a local election here in Wales this May. I have been very impressed with the calibre of Labour’s prospective candidates being put forward for the Flintshire County Council election; and I am looking forward to joining them on the doorstep for their campaigns.

There are also key elections coming up across Europe, particularly in Holland, France and Germany. The outcome of these elections could impact the rest of Europe dramatically as far-right parties look to make an impact.

We have been told that Article 50 is likely going to be triggered in March. Our withdrawal from the EU is the most important issue facing our country for generations and I intend to use the year ahead to scrutinise the Government’s negotiation strategy, and ensure the best possible outcome for the people I represent.

In March, Phillip Hammond will get the opportunity to deliver his first budget. I can only hope that the budget does not follow the trends set out by his Autumn Statement, which gave big business a tax cut and no help for social care.

There will of course be a new President taking office in America. How quickly the President elect, Donald Trump, can establish himself in the most powerful office in the world will have a profound effect globally. Politically therefore, there is much to look ahead to.

My office will be open as usual and my staff will be available throughout the year to answer any questions you may have. Carl Sargeant and I will also be holding regular advice surgeries, details of which are available on my website.

I would also like to take this opportunity to recognise the fantastic achievement of two constituents who featured in this year’s honours list. Congratulations to both Rosemary Jones and Joan Aird who have contributed significantly to the local community and whose efforts have deservedly been recognised.