First Minister brands Andrew RT Davies ‘absolute disgrace’
The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford has branded the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies an “absolute disgrace” over Tory messaging surrounding the new 20mph default speed limit.
Speaking in the chamber during FMQs on Tuesday (September 19) Mark Drakeford said the leader of the opposition was “determined not to tell the truth” with his characterisation of the new road regulation as a “blanket ban”.
The First Minister said: “Some people have already concluded it’s not that he doesn’t understand, it’s just that he’s determined not to tell the truth, and that is a disgrace, an absolute disgrace, in someone who holds the office that he holds.”
His comments came in response to a question from MS for Newport East, John Griffiths who said the Welsh Conservatives must be “called out” for “debasing democracy”.
Mr Griffiths said: “What we’ve seen is a distortion of the debate from the Welsh Tories—for example, trotting out this line repeatedly that it’s a blanket ban, when we know that there will be exceptions.
“And that is part of a pattern, First Minister, a pattern coming from the top, from the leader Andrew R. T. Davies—for example, pretending that asylum seekers coming to Wales would receive cash handouts from the Welsh Government.
“It’s part of a pattern, First Minister, and it’s part of a pattern that is distorting and debasing our democracy. We must call it out.”
Mark Drakeford replied: “The leader of the opposition appears to believe that by simply continuing to say something that is not true, he can make it true.
“If it were a blanket ban, they would not have been able to do that. That is why it is simply untrue to keep repeating, no matter how many times it is explained, no matter how many times the leader of the opposition knows that what he is saying is a distortion of the truth.
“The position is it is a default speed limit, with the ability of local authorities, which local authorities are exercising, to amend that speed limit on roads where they know that that is the right answer for their local populations.”
Although the leader of the opposition attempted to intervene, he was told to wait until it was his turn to put questions to the First Minister.
Mr Davies opened his line of questioning by asking Mark Drakeford for an apology on behalf of the Counsel General, Mick Antoniw who last week posted a Tweet accusing the Welsh Tories of being “happy” about people dying in road accidents.
The Tweet has since been deleted and although the leader of the opposition said he was grateful for its removal he still hadn’t heard an apology from for the offensive post.
The First Minister said: “I understand, the Counsel General took the tweet down immediately and has since acknowledged that he would not have expressed it in that way had he been in a position to give it further consideration.”
Mr Davies replied: “I’m grateful that that tweet was taken down, but I didn’t hear an apology to the people that it was aimed at. Ultimately, it was a very offensive tweet, to say the least, to say that we would wish to see children being injured.
“But it’s been taken down. I had hoped that you as First Minister might have apologised on behalf of the Counsel General, but, obviously, that’s not forthcoming.”
Last week, the Welsh Conservatives forced a vote in an attempt to block the new default speed limit coming into force on restricted roads in Wales at the weekend.
The Party were not successful with Labour and Plaid Cymru voting in favour of the new road regulation.
A petition calling for the new 20mph speed limit became the most signed Senedd petition in history on Monday night and now stands at over 170,000 signatures.
During FMQs, Tory MS Tom Giffard asked would the the First Minister commit to rescinding the “disastrous” 20mph scheme following the number of the signatories supporting calls for the limit to be scrapped.
The First Minister said simply: “No.”
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