AFTER his re-election to the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr parliamentary seat, Jonathan Edwards spoke to the South Wales Guardian about his plans for the constituency for the next five years.


The former historian spoke of his honour in being re-elected once again.


Jonathan said: “It means an enormous amount to me to be re-elected as I was born and raised in the Amman Valley.


“To represent my home communities in Parliament is by far the most prestigious and privileged job I could ever do. When your own community shows its faith in you it fills you with an enormous sense of pride.”


As the UK heads into a very turbulent time politically, Jonathan will be working to ensure the constituency and Wales as a whole gets the most out of the Brexit deal.


Jonathan explained: “We’re already seeing the Labour Party, very cynically, moving to force another election. I think that would be a grave mistake. People have used their voice when this election was forced upon them by the Prime Minister – which she is now paying the price for – and I think the same thing will happen to the Labour Party.


“We’ve got under a year-and-a-half to get this done. To hold another general election in the middle of these talks would be deeply irresponsible for the Labour Party to put their politics above people’s lives. Whatever the outcome of these negotiations, they are going to have an impact for generations to come.”


The country is facing one of the most difficult political negotiations since the end of World War Two. With the two major political parties pushing for independence from the single market, Jonathan will be pushing for transparency in the discussions to ensure Wales does not lose out.


“There is a world of difference between access to the single market and membership of the single market and I think we need a far more honest debate about that in Westminster so people realise and understand these differences.


“You cannot reap the benefits of membership of the single market via access,” Jonathan, who sat on the Brexit select committee in Westminster, explained.


“As politicians, we should keep in mind that party politics are not what is important. Protecting jobs and preserving wages and standards of living is what should be at the forefront of every decision.


“It would be an act of gross economic self-harm if we were to turn away from the most successful and most lucrative trading block in the world. That is my overriding political priority over the course of this Parliament, however long it lasts.


“In terms of Wales, at the start of the talks about Brexit, before the referendum, we were told that Wales would not be short of a single penny if we voted to leave the EU.


“That is a promise that needs to be upheld so that EU funded projects in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr such as Flying Start, which provides intensive support and early intervention services for nought to three-year-olds and their families who are in poverty or disadvantaged, can carry out their vital work in our communities.”


Locally, Jonathan is looking forward to continuing the work he has already been involved in.


“The Llandeilo bypass which is going to be hugely beneficial for the Towy Valley. I am looking forward to working closely with Adam Price, my Welsh Assembly colleague and Dafydd Llewellyn, our Police and Crime Commissioner. I will also continue to work closely with communities, especially those with Plaid Cymru councillors, which have been left behind for far too long.”


Resolving issues such as loneliness and poverty in the elderly are something Jonathan is keen to push for over his next term as MP.


“We have a very clear sense of community in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, which we are so fortunate to have. We must work with prevalent community groups to ensure can protect and defend that community spirit.


“Isolation in the very rural parts of our community is a major issue. By expanding health and social care provision, we can ensure that the health board and the local authorities work in synergy.


“We have been campaigning for the health care and social care budgets to be joined for many years, so the bureaucratic barrier between the two can be broken and we can work more efficiently and effectively with the most vulnerable in our society.”


He is also hoping to finally change legislation on the winter fuel allowance. “Winter fuel allowance is something we know is vital. A third of the population of Wales lives in fuel poverty, and considering we produce far more energy than we use, that is a disgrace.


“As 60 per cent of people in Carmarthenshire are off the gas grid, by paying out the winter fuel allowance earlier in the year, when prices are lower, people can get far more fuel for their money. This would not cost the Government a single penny more, but would allow those people in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr to stay warm over winter.


Jonathan is anxious for more businesses and local authorities to follow the example lead by Carmarthenshire County Council on the importance of maintaining good mental health and wellbeing.


“The point of the creation of the NHS was to ensure people were fit and healthy enough to work. Modern working lives are very stressful, we’re constantly pushed to be more productive, in a consumerist society where there are huge calls on household budgets, therefore we need to base a strategy on general well being, looking beyond physical health.


“One of the things Carmarthenshire County Council has started doing, which I think we can take huge inspiration from is the in-house team they have created and employed who work to ensure all 8,000 local authority staff members are happy and healthy. They have found they are having fewer absences due to illness or stress and their staff are more productive because they are happier in their roles.


“Keeping the work force healthy, motivated and supported has meant they get far more out for their staff just by investing in that team.


“It’s all about prevention. The initiative they have shown is highly commendable.”