Labour pint photo-op while hospitality closed ‘unbelievable’ says Andrew RT Davies
The leader of the Welsh Tories has criticised Keir Starmer for having his photo taken with a pint in Wales while the pubs are closed.
Andrew RT Davies, who crossed the border to visit a pub in England last week to call on Mark Drakeford to reopen hospitality in Wales, described Labour’s Westminster leader’s decision to drink a glass of lager while on a visit to Wrexham as “unbelievable”.
Both UK Labour leader Keir Starmer, Mark Drakeford and Wrexham incumbent Lesley Griffiths were photographed with pints during a visit to Wrexham Larger Brewery in the constituency today.
Outdoor hospitality will reopen in Wales on Monday, 26 April and First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to reveal that pubs will be allowed to reopen indoors on 17 May during tomorrow’s press conference.
But Andrew RT Davies, who has called for pubs to reopen at the same time as England last week, criticised the choice of campaign photo.
“Welsh pubs are closed,” he said. “People in Wales are unable to have a pint at their local. People are losing their jobs and businesses are going to the wall.
“All thanks to Labour and yet Starmer thinks it’s appropriate to come to Wales and have a pint on a photo opp. Unbelievable.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer pulls a pint and drinks it during a visit to Wrexham Larger Brewery in Wrexham as part of Welsh Labour’s Senedd election campaign. pic.twitter.com/2PYlSMsKtN
— peter byrne (@Peter_J_Byrne) April 22, 2021
During his visit to the brewery, which opened in the town centre in 2011 after the lager brand was revived, Keir Starmer was given the opportunity to pull a pint and sample some of the produce.
The Welsh Tory leader has repeatedly called on the Welsh Government to open up the economy more quickly, and has said that restrictions on outdoor hospitality need to be lifted to help “save Welsh jobs and businesses”.
But Welsh Government has said it is taking “a careful step-by-step approach” to avoid a third wave.
“We have set out a series of measures to relax restrictions through April and May, subject to public health conditions being favourable,” a spokesperson said.
It also says that it has provided more than £2bn of funding to support businesses impacted by the pandemic, and claimed this has safeguarded 165,000 Welsh jobs.
Keir Starmer told Liam Randall of the Local Democracy Reporter service that he understood the frustration of business owners but felt Mr Drakeford, who joined him for the visit, had taken the right approach.
“Mark Drakeford has carefully followed the scientific evidence and taken decisions accordingly,” he said.
“Is it frustrating to be in restrictions with lockdown? Of course it is. But is it necessary in the circumstances? Yes, it is.
“Wrexham Lager has given me a very warm welcome and the staff here have been fantastic. Far from throwing me out, they invited me to pour a pint and then to have a drink of it.”
Earlier today the Welsh Conservatives accused Labour of “using the Welsh Government platform” for electoral purposes following reports they would announce the reopening of pubs on May 17 at a press conference tomorrow.
Andrew RT Davies said that the details of any lockdown lifting should have been announced prior to the election period, not during it.
“Labour’s inaction and refusal to bring forward a roadmap out of lockdown has caused uncertainty and confusion for many Welsh families, workers and businesses,” he said.
“Thanks to the UK’s great vaccination story so much more detail could’ve been announced prior to the election period – such as on hospitality, sport, gyms and other economic and social activities – but Labour chose to play politics.
“This latest review announcement has already been well trailed and should be led by the chief medical officer, not the First Minister, in what is a blatant attempt to influence May’s election.”