2017 certainly brought its share of difficulties, challenges and unpredictable events and our world feels like a less stable place.

In this context, we in Wales and the wider UK have cause to reflect in 2018 on what could be the last year of our membership of the European Union.  

During the past 45 years, our economies have grown stronger, relationships between member states have grown deeper and war and bloodshed between the nations of Europe, as between the communities of Ireland have become a distant memory.

We now face the reality of what the total rupture in relations a ‘Hard Brexit’ would mean – for our rural heartlands, our post industrial communities, our food security and our public services, notably the NHS.

In doing so, we should respect the views not only of the 52%, but also the 48%, and the many denied the chance to have a say.

The greater the stability we can retain in our relations with European friends and neighbours in the time to come and the lower the hurdles erected in trade and labour flows will surely be in our shared interest, as our governments strive to navigate the choppy waters of Brexit.

My own party, the Liberal Democrats, have been committed to our European destiny since the days of Jo Grimond, and I am proud that we remain on that terrain. But this issue, which matters more than any other in my adult life, must transcend all partisan or tribal interests.

The cross party movement to reassess the impact of Brexit, of leaving the single market and the customs union, on living standards and the prospects of ordinary people in every community, must grow apace and find its voice in 2018.

Generations to come will judge us harshly, if we fail to rise to this historic challenge.

Happy New Year. 

William Powell
Welsh Government EU Advisory Group