by Glyn Roberts, FUW president
THERE are many things we can say about the political realm across the UK but we can never accuse it of being boring. So to spice things up in an already turbulent environment, Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement to call a general election for June 8, has to be met with caution. Most of us will have been surprised by the announcement and ask ourselves why an election was called now. The end of the likely Article 50 negotiations is a hard deadline set for March 2019 and under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, that’s when the Government would start to prepare for a general election the following year. So with that in mind, the UK government would be exposed to a hardball from the EU because ministers would be desperate to avoid accepting anything that would be politically unpopular, or hold the Brexit process up, at the start of a crucial election cycle. By holding the election now, Theresa May hopes to gain a fresh start on the political clock on Brexit, even though the Article 50 process still has a deadline of only two years. However, the timing of this election will do nothing to aid progress in establishing a UK framework for agriculture and might prolong a period of uncertainty for the industry. We have therefore urged the Westminster Government not to ignore the critical issues at hand. As the independent voice for Welsh farming, the FUW will of course continue to remind all parties about the importance of the rural economy and why #FarmingMatters and is actively going to engage with candidates about the future of agriculture in the coming weeks. Following the general election, The FUW will be calling for an equal intergovernmental relationship, based on trust and transparency, between the UK Government and Welsh Government and the other devolved administration in Scotland and Northern Ireland. This will be essential for the establishment of an effective UK framework for agriculture after leaving the EU, one based on collaboration and mutual respect. The union will shortly release its own general election manifesto outlining our expectations and will work throughout the campaign to ensure MPs understand that the future of the rural economy must be a national priority, now and in the years to come.