Johnson treats Wales with ‘contempt’ and is ‘biggest recruiter for independence’ health minister says

Vaughan Gething on BBC Question Time

The prospects of Wales becoming an independent country has increased due to the actions of Boris Johnson, Wales’ Health Secretary has said.

Vaughan Gething said that the Prime Minister had treated Wales with “real contempt” and that the Internal Market Bill amounted to a “direct assault” on Welsh autonomy.

He pointed to the decision to declare HS2 spending on England and Wales, with the resultant knock-on effect on Wales’ infrastructure budget, as an example.

Vaughan Gething was speaking on last night’s Question Time, filmed in Swansea.

“He is the biggest recruiting sergeant for the independence movement,” he said. “And that’s the way he’s gone about not just this pandemic but how he’s spoken about parts of the union. His actions in office.”

He said that he still believed the union of the UK gave Wales the best chance to make its own decisions while benefitting from being part of a wider union of countries.

However, he said that “the way that this government has gone about a range of choices and the way that we have sometimes been treated with real contempt”.

“For example, the HS2 spend is counted as England and Wales, yet not a single inch of the HS2 track or spend is going to come to Wales,” he said.

“It’s a detriment to the Welsh economy. But this government decides that that’s actually England and Wales funds. That costs real money for people in Wales, a real detriment to infrastructure spend.

“So there’s a real challenge here in the tone and the performance of this government.”

 

‘Betrayal’

The Health Minister added that the UK Government had “betrayed” farmers over a promise to maintain the same level of funding as the EU did, once Brexit was complete.

“If they’re serious about this union, they need to act like they’re a government for the whole of the United Kingdom and show more respect for the people in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland,” he said.

“And they can do something about that by taking a very different approach to the Internal Markets Bill, which is a direct assault on devolution. And Welsh farmers are going to find, they are going to pay the price for the choices this government has made.

“Because the betrayal in the current statement from the Chancellor yesterday does show a significant cut of money going to rural communities, and a straightforward power grab for devolved responsibilities.”

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