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Retiring Anglesey MP Albert Owen says Wylfa Newydd will happen – despite distractions of Brexit

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The island’s outgoing MP remains confident that a multi-billion-pound nuclear plant will go ahead, despite question marks over its future

Approaching his final week in Parliament, the North Wales MP says he remains confident a multi-billion-pound nuclear plant will go ahead despite question marks over its future. Other political distractions like Brexit or the upcoming election won’t stop plans for the plant. 

First elected in 2001 – one of only two gains made by Labour that night, Albert Owen has represented Ynys Môn since that surprise win 18 years ago.

But having spent his early career riding on a crest of Tony Blair’s electoral wave, the former merchant seaman has spent the past nine years as a permanent fixture on the opposition back benches.

Speaking in his hometown of Holyhead on Friday, the father of two looked back on his parliamentary career with mostly fondness, but also concern over the direction of modern-day politics. These are a few of the comments he made: 

“Politics has always been about people, one of the greatest thrills is still getting a letter from Mrs Jones for helping her in some way,” he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

“While you have to fight modern campaigns these days, there’s still a place for community politics, which is why I wanted to become an MP.” 

Despite the island narrowly backing a leave vote, he has been a consistent voice in favour of another referendum, arguing that a no-deal outcome would be ‘disastrous.’

“I’ve never seen politics so polarised, yes there have always been some huge disagreements and that’s healthy, but never so simplistic as yes/no or in/out,” he added.

“Brexit opened Pandora’s box, and it’s been very hard to bring people together.” 

Acknowledging Brexit had “sucked the air out of the room” in terms of Government support for the scheme, which was expected to create 800 well-paid jobs, he remains confident it will become a reality despite the past ten years being dominated by spending cuts and austerity.

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Beth Thurlow

Politics Editor | 19-20

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