"CERTAINTY" was the buzzword on the lips of those attending Friday's Brexit Business Conference in Mold.

Whether it was mentioned by the attending MPs or AMs or by those representing North Wales' business community, it was a phrase which was repeated again and again as the morning's discussions unfolded and the impact of the UK's withdrawal from the European Union (EU) on the region was debated.

"The idea for the conference came from a meeting Askar Sheibani, the chair of Deeside Business Forum, and I, had with Keir Starmer MP," explained Mr Sargeant. "He raised the point that he needed to hear more from businesses on Brexit so we organised this landmark event and over 150 people have attended and it's great to hear their voices.

“Brexit is a huge issue for businesses in my constituency, from Airbus and Toyota to smaller companies, and this is the case across North Wales and the North West.

"These are interesting times and it will be hectic over the next weeks, but certainty and clarity are needed and we've been calling for that from day one and it was that need for certainty that was the main outcome today."

A cross-party investigation in 2017 into the impact of Brexit on devolution flagged up dangers for Wales and called for a new funding system that reflects the real level of need in the UK's nations. The report from the Lords EU Committee intensified fears about what could happen to Wales when the UK leaves the EU with many warning that the Welsh economy – agriculture and manufacturing in particular – is “highly reliant” on membership of the single market.

"We are all absolutely fed up that the Government and parliamentarians are listening to big business but we in the grassroots are almost never heard," said Mr Sheibani, chief executive of IT and telecoms repair company Comtek Network Systems. "This event has allowed us to raise our voices loud and clear.

"So many small businesses - they could be plumbers or cleaners - rely on firms like Toyota or Airbus and they don't know what is going to happen. All of a sudden one of these large organisations could close and people couldn't care less about these smaller businesses and their livelihood being in danger. They are the ones who've wanted to raise their voice and today they are, directly to MPs, AMs and senior MPs. They are frustrated with the Government and its leadership but this was a good opportunity to speak out."

With the conference dominated by Labour MPs and AMs much of the conversation centred around the party's Brexit policy and its plans to vote against Theresa May's much-criticised Brussels deal, which the Prime Minister has maintained is the "best and only deal possible". Despite this pledge, thousands of Labour members have demanded their party also back a second referendum over EU membership rather than stopping short of opposing Brexit under different terms.

"The over-arching thing which I took from the event was the fear of uncertainty and the fear of no-deal," said the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, who was among the speakers at the conference and chaired one of the discussion groups. "Many people I've spoken to today have different ideas about what should happen on Tuesday if Mrs May's deal doesn't get past the House, but they all want it sorted out as quickly as possible.

"What Labour want is a good deal and the deal we have on the table isn't a good deal for this region or the whole of Britain. What we have been pushing the Prime Minister to do is to listen to the concerns of MPs from across the House and go back to Europe and negotiate a better deal. Our businesses our investing for the next 10-20 years based on what this deal encapsulates so we want to get it as right as we can.

"We know in the last few days the Government has been engaging with back bench MPs in an attempt to get their deal over the line and two years into the process that is really not good enough. We've had that time to be able to work across parties to deliver a deal which of course may not have pleased everybody but we could could have delivered a consensus. We know that consensus can still be found but we need to be given is an opportunity to do that."

If Mrs May's deal is voted down, Labour maintain a general election should be held and for Ms Long-Bailey any thought of North Wales continuing to be sidelined as many businesses have felt in the last decade was quickly rebuffed.

"This goes to the heart of some of things that have been going on for the last eight years," she added. "Areas like North Wales or Salford where I'm from have been neglected. We've not been invested in, we've not been listened to and that has resulted in a lot of people losing faith in politics and the establishment. That's certainly something we want to change and it was at the heart of our last manifesto and in my view the quicker we get a Labour government the better."

"The Government is a mess," agreed Mr Sargeant. "It's a shambles and the only way to stop that is to have a new government. We need a new mandate with Jeremy (Corbyn) and Keir driving the Brexit deal."

As for one of the region's biggest businesses, a cautious approach was still very much the strategy with Tata Steel, who employ 700 people at their production plant in Shotton, admitting that they were preparing for a no-deal scenario.

"This has been a good opportunity for us as a business to get interaction with the politicians who can actually make the difference," added the plant's general manager Bill Duckworth. "The business community has been quite clear about what it needs and it needs some certainty. You can prepare for what you know but at the moment we are trying to prepare for something that might or might not happen and whatever the outcome is and whatever the nature of the leave deal is we need to know what that is so we can prepare for it. As a company we are preparing for no Brexit which I think was about the only thing we all agreed on today was the thing that no one really wants."