The political scene in Wales was rocked at the end of 2019 by a general election that saw Labour’s heartland in the north east taken from its grasp.
It was just one of several battlegrounds across England and Wales that the Conservatives won from Jeremy Corbyn’s party.
Wales remains dominated by parties on the left, but with Labour in Westminster mostly reduced to a rump of seats in the south, the general election was a still earthquake here.
The result’s ramifications will be felt throughout 2020.
Boris Johnson’s majority of 80 means the House of Commons will have few of the twists and turns of 2019. Backbenchers’ power to alter the course of events has diminished.
But while the parliamentary drama will not be quite the same, the prime minister has a lot in his inbox.
2020: The year of Brexit
The UK leaves the EU on January 31 – but that won’t be the end of the story.
Britain then enters a 11-month transition period where it follows the rules of the club while it prepares for the future relationship with the 27-member state bloc.
The prime minister said he will not agree to an extension, so 2020 is the year when we will likely find out what kind of links, economic and otherwise, we will maintain with the rest of Europe.
Welsh Labour had campaigned to stay in the EU altogether, and the Welsh Government in Cardiff will likely call for as close a link as possible with the European Union.
One potential flash point is the withdrawal bill itself. At some point before January 31 the Welsh Assembly will need to vote on it.
The vote will have no legal weight, but the UK government generally tries to obtain the Senedd’s approval for legislation Parliament passes that impacts Wales.
Indications from October were that the mostly pro-EU Senedd would vote against the deal. Will the general election result change minds?
The question of what replaces European Union funding may come to a head soon. Up until now Wales’ devolved institutions have had a big say in spending EU cash.
The money, given to a large region of Wales because its economic performance is low compared with the rest of Europe, is currently administered by the Welsh Government in Cardiff.
The plan is to replace it with the “shared prosperity fund” – how it will work and who will run it remain unclear, although the Conservative manifesto promised to match the size of the EU funds given to each nation.
That would lead to accusations from First Minister Mark Drakeford’s Welsh Government that the UK government was rolling back devolution.
Ban on smacking and a new name for the Assembly
Assembly members will head back to Cardiff Bay on Monday for the new term.
At the end of last year AMs agreed to change the name of the institution from the National Assembly to Senedd Cymru, or Welsh Parliament. AMs will become Members of the Senedd, or MSs.
That will happen later in May, but the institution and the laws it is examining will remain the same.
They include the Welsh Government’s planned ban on smacking, and a prohibition on wild animals in circuses.
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A new law on minimum alcohol prices will come in on March 2, putting in place a basic price of 50p per unit.
The road to 2021
The next major elections in Wales for the assembly will take place in 18 months, and the parties will be preparing the ground in anticipation.
Expect news of selections, strategies and policies to build as the year goes on.
The business of government continues and the largest item in the Welsh Government’s budget is the health service.
Will Betsi Cadwaladr health board remain in special measures by June, which would mark five years of intensive oversight?
Engineering work on the Welsh Government’s plan to overhaul commuter rail routes leading into Cardiff is planned to begin in March.
But the transfer of assets from Network Rail to Wales – to allow the South Wales Metro to happen – has to take place first.
The new Welsh Secretary
Speculation grew after the general election that the Wales Office, which is part of the UK government and works with the devolved administration, would be scrapped.
However, the new Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said the suggestion was “nonsense”.
With a cabinet reshuffle expected in February, will the post be maintained?
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