Wales ‘deceived’ over EU funding say Labour as Alun Cairns confirms ‘not a penny less’ claim was misleading
A Welsh Labour MP has accused the UK Government of “deceit” after it was revealed that they knew at the time knew that their claim that “not a penny less” on EU funding would go to Wales was deliberately misleading.
Will Hayward’s new book Independent Nation: Should Wales Leave the UK includes an interview with Alun Cairns in which he makes it clear that he knew that the intention was that EU funds would be allocated by Westminster rather than the Welsh Government after Brexit.
The Conservatives promised that Wales would receive “not a penny less” as a result of Brexit during their 2019 General Election campaign, but did not make it clear that the money would not be going to the Welsh Government, which had decided how the money would be spent since 1999.
In the book, Will Hayward says that Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns “knew full well what the reaction would be if people in Wales knew that the plan was for former EU funds to be allocated by Westminster as opposed to the Welsh Government”.
Cardiff Central MP Jo Stevens said that the revelation in the book “proves yet again that you can’t trust a single word Conservative ministers say”.
“Time and again, Tories including Johnson, Cairns, Hart and Davies repeated their manifesto promise that Wales wouldn’t receive a penny less in post-EU funding,” she said.
“As well as breaking their ‘not a penny less’ promise, the cat is now out of the bag that they knew people thought the money would go to Welsh Government to decide how to spend and they deliberately concealed the fact that it wouldn’t.
“Both Truss and Sunak have been part of this Tory government deceit. Whichever of them becomes Prime Minister next week, they won’t change.”
In the book Alun Cairns is quoted as saying of the 2019 General Election campaign: “Boris was on board. When he came down to a hustings debate, we were briefing him and I said: ‘You will get the question, about European aid, [and] in the manifesto we have got to make the commitment that there won’t be a penny less.’
“To quote, Boris said to me: ‘We want to control that, don’t we?’ and I said: ‘Yes, but you can’t say that… because it will really spark a political debate in Wales, because we haven’t yet explained the commitment that you get the same money but it will be localised to a greater degree than the centralised approach that you get for the Welsh government.’
“I said to the Prime Minister: ‘The answer you’ve got to give’ – and he stuck to it absolutely – ‘is that we’ll be using good Conservative principles on how it should be spent.’ And if you look back to the quotes, that’s exactly what he said in his answer. You know, not once did we deny it, but we hadn’t laid the ground to explain.”
He added: “I’ve been very candid there.”
Reacting to this revelation, Will Hayward, who is the Welsh Affairs Editor at WalesOnline, said that it demonstrates why the UK as currently constituted did not function.
“To have a true union of equal nations, the component parts of the UK need to be treated as partners, not rivals,” he said.
“The introduction of devolution was the acknowledgement that decisions should be made closer to the people they affect, and this has been repeatedly supported by the people of Wales in both elections and referendums.”
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