Johnson confirms intention to overrule Welsh Government on transport

Boris Johnson. Picture by EU2017EE Estonian Presidency (CC BY 2.0)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that he would be willing to “take forward” transport infrastructure plans in Wales even if they are rejected by the Welsh Government.

He referred specifically to the M4 bypass plan, which the Welsh Government rejected citing the £1.6bn cost and impact on the environment.

A commission will now look at alternative solutions to the problem of congestion on the M4 in Newport.

But a bill which recently passed the House of Commons, described by First Minister Mark Drakeford as an “enormous power grab,” would give the UK Government the power to overrule the Welsh Government on financing transport projects.

“What we’re going to do is look at projects like the relief road, and I must say it was quite extraordinary that the Labour Welsh government managed to spend £144 million on a study … which they then filed vertically,” Boris Johnson told ITV.

“So we’ll look at the relief road and look at how to relieve congestion in the Brynglas tunnels, that will certainly be one of the things that we’ll be seeing if we can take forward.”

 

‘Undermining’

The Internal Market Bill which is now in the House of Lords is an attempt to recentralise control to Westminster, a Senedd committee said last month.

Contrary to what the UK Government have said, there are no provisions in the Bill which give new powers to the Senedd, the Senedd’s Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee today said.

In fact, it does the opposite, they say, by expressly including new areas as being outside the Senedd’s powers.

“We recognise and endorse the need for a UK internal market after leaving the EU. But this Bill as it is drafted is not the way to achieve that objective,” the Committee chair Mick Antoniw MS said.

“The common frameworks that all governments have been working and co-operating on since 2017 are the right approach.

“As it stands the Bill has the potential to create unnecessary division and appears to be an attempt to recentralise control to Westminster.

“It is undermining the trust and goodwill between governments, which is an unwelcome distraction in the middle of a global pandemic. We urge the UK Government to reconsider the terms of the Bill.”

 

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