One year on from the EU referendum

The EU Referendum campaign was one of the most divisive and hard fought electoral battles many of us will remember.

Both sides passionately believed in vastly different futures for Britain. Vote Leave was an underdog campaign from the very beginning, it still baffles many to this day that they ever managed to convince the public to vote to leave the European Union, with all odds stacked against them.

Let’s face it, the Vote Leave campaign strategy, at a national and local level outclassed the Remain campaign throughout the course of the election.

In Wales we focused on a positive vision, fighting for a nation with the ability to stand on its own two feet and run its own affairs, without the influence of those who prioritise their own nation’s interests above Wales’.

We reached parts of Wales the Remain campaign would rarely venture too. Small villages and market town action days across all parts of Wales happened on a regular basis. In comparison the Welsh remain campaign focused their efforts in densely populated cities in the South of Wales.

A year on from the vote much has changed. The British Government has successfully kicked off negotiations for our withdrawal and against all the establishment hype, the British economy has remained resilient and hasn’t fallen off a cliff edge as many predicted.

Going forward we must continue to believe in the decision of the British people. Many politicians at a European and national level are still attempting to undermine the British position on social media and in the media. I sometimes wonder whose side are these people on, with their constant criticism of their own nation.

We have a golden opportunity coming our way. Over the next few years, vast areas of policy the EU once controlled will come back under British control. Many areas will be devolved to Wales, such as agriculture and fishing. We have a chance to reinvent the way in which Wales works. I hope to see the Welsh Government make ambitious strides to diversify our business sectors, attract international investment and make Wales a truly global nation.

As Co-Director of the Centre for Welsh Studies, my team and I will be keeping a close eye on how the British and Welsh Governments handle Brexit in the coming years. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and they must get it right.

Matthew MacKinnon was the Vote Leave Regional Director for Wales and is now Co-Director of the Centre for Welsh Studies.