Andrew RT Davies rebukes Drakeford reference to ‘tea towel-waving Tories’
Andrew RT Davies has rebuked Mark Drakeford for a reference to “tea towel-waving Tories”.
The Tory Senedd leader suggested that the First Minister would not “achieve success” when it comes to “debate” about the union with comments about the Union Jack.
During a discussion in the Senedd, he insisted that he wanted to have a “constructive debate” with the Welsh Government about “constitutional change” but added that it’s “important” to “focus” on “day-to-day issues”.
The First Minister responded that he had “no choice but to be focused on” constitutional matters because the UK Government decided to “take away” powers from Wales.
Andrew RT Davies said: “I want to have a constructive debate with the Welsh Government when it comes to constitutional change and development.
“But, as I said in my opening remarks, I do think that it is important that we focus on the day-to-day issues of the health service, the education and the economy of our great country.
“I passionately believe that the union is better by having a strong Wales within that union, and I do believe that, as I said, there is a debate around the Supreme Court, the House of Lords, and inter-governmental relations.
“But, this Government here in Cardiff Bay will not achieve success when it talks about towel-waving Union Jack – or tea towel-waving Tories – which I notice the First Minister didn’t use in his address to the Parliament today, but it is in his written statement. So, I’d be grateful for answers on those questions that I have put to him.”
‘Chose not to’
Mark Drakeford said: “He starts by saying that the people of Wales would rather us be talking about education and the health service, and yet, I notice that when he had the opportunity to ask me questions, he chose not to deal with either of those matters.
“Indeed, I cannot help but notice that in the weeks that have now gone by since the election, he’s not chosen once to ask me a question about the global pandemic in which Wales is still gripped. So, we all make choices, and the leader of the opposition makes his.
“I don’t agree with him in his general suggestion that we shouldn’t be focused on constitutional matters. We have no choice but to be focused on them. We’re dealing with them every day.
“When I meet, as I do every week, with Michael Gove and the leaders of the other Parliaments in the UK, I see absolutely close up the stresses and strains that there are in Northern Ireland, and the impact that the Northern Ireland protocol is having on relations between the Government there and the Government in the United Kingdom.
“The UK Government decided to take away from us the powers that we have to design a compensation scheme for fishers here in Wales.
“That’s been devolved to us since the very beginning of devolution, and yet, in the post-Brexit era, instead of us being able to design a system that would fit Wales, and then using the funding to implement that scheme, the UK Government decided that it will make the scheme for Wales, and it avoided any scrutiny here in the Senedd by doing so.
“The UK Government regularly threatens – the Secretary of State was at it again only last week – to impose a free port on Wales without the agreement of the Welsh Government.
“And just to be clear, the Welsh Government has always said we will be prepared to agree a free port on the terms that we set out in our letter of February of last year, a letter to which we have never received a reply.”