Drakeford blasts UK Government claims that Wales would not be worse off outside the EU as ‘fraudulent’
Mark Drakeford has blasted the UK Government’s claim that Wales would not be any worse off outside the EU as “fraudulent”.
Speaking during First Minister’s Questions he said that the “absolute guarantee” that Wales would be not a penny worse off had been “comprehensively broken and abandoned”.
Wales would have received £375 million in funding in this calendar year from European structural funds, but will now receive £47 million from the UK Government.
“How does anybody, Llywydd, believe that £47 million, when we would have received £375 million, represents, at a minimum, matching the size of EU funds each year?” Mark Drakeford asked.
“The UK Government now says that it will count towards the money that they will give us, money we have already got from the European Union. Now, I’m not saying anything about fraudulent use of money, but I’m absolutely saying that that argument is fraudulent.
“The argument that you can count money you’ve already got towards money that they promised they would give us is simply not to accurately describe what is going on here.”
The First Minister added that the way the UK Government had handled Covid contracts pointed to the difference between the Welsh and UK Government’s handling of finances.
“The controller general said that he had not been able to obtain an assurance that up to nearly £9 billion that had been lost on PPE in England—that there had not been a material level of that loss, which was down to fraud,” he said.
“Well, there you have it, Llywydd: a very, very direct comparison of the way things have been done in Wales.”
The Conservatives’ economy spokesperson Paul Davies responded to say that he agreed that “it’s crucial that Wales doesn’t receive less funding than it had when we were in the European Union”.
“And, as Chair of the Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee, I can assure you that we will be scrutinising this issue very carefully in the next weeks and months,” he added.
Mark Drakeford responded: “Well, Llywydd, thank you very much to Paul Davies for what he said, as Chair of the committee, and I look forward to the work that the committee will be doing to assist all of us to make the case to the Treasury to do what the Conservatives said in their manifesto during the general election.
“I don’t think that there is any doubt now that they have rolled back from what they promised, and the work of the committee will be a help, I’m sure, to make the case again to the UK Government to fund Wales as they had said they would.”
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