Mark Drakeford and Rishi Sunak have ‘constructive’ first meeting, First Minister says
Wales’s First Minister Mark Drakeford had a “constructive” virtual meeting with Rishi Sunak as the Prime Minister attended the British-Irish Council summit, according to the Welsh Government.
The summit would have been the first in-person meeting between the two leaders but Mr Drakeford is having to attend virtually due to testing positive for coronavirus earlier in the week.
Rishi Sunak called Mark Drakeford in his first day in the post and has now met him on his 17th day – in stark contrast with his predecessor Liz Truss who failed to engage with the First Minister throughout her 50-day period in power.
Mark Drakeford’s relationship with Boris Johnson had also been strained, with the First Minister calling him “awful”.
A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said of his meeting with Rishi Sunak: “The First Minister had a constructive call with the Prime Minister this afternoon.
“They discussed a wide range of issues affecting Wales, including support for Tata and the importance of the Shared Prosperity Fund working properly to reflect the needs of Welsh communities. They also discussed how the UK and Welsh governments can work better together.
“The First Minister and Prime Minister discussed the cost-of-living crisis in more depth at a later meeting ahead of the start of the British and Irish Council in Blackpool.”
Mark Drakeford had earlier said that he would use the British-Irish Council summit to push Rishi Sunak on providing more help during the winter period, and welcomed “the return of constructive dialogue with the Prime Minister”.
Rishi Sunak also met Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for his first face-to-face meeting since becoming Prime Minister.
He urged “teamwork, absolute focus and collective effort” with the devolved leaders of Scotland and Wales after attending a British-Irish Council summit in Blackpool.
Teamwork, absolute focus and collective effort will be required to deal with the shared challenges faced by people across the UK. pic.twitter.com/dxcwU1InJD
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) November 10, 2022
The meeting, during the British-Irish Council summit taking place in Blackpool, Lancashire, was also attended by the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, appearing via video link.
Michael Gove, Minister for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, was also present.
There will be no “substantive change” in policy towards the devolved nations under Rishi Sunak, but a more “positive approach”, a former Scottish secretary said as the Prime Minister attended the summit.
“I don’t think that there’ll be a substantive change from the (Boris Johnson) era,” David Mundell told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme.
“The general approach previously, which was I think a constructive one on issues where there was agreement, obviously particularly in relation to Scotland, where there isn’t agreement on the constitutional future, that that position will remain unchanged.
“But I think Rishi Sunak has obviously demonstrated he wants to reach out, he wants to have a dialogue, he wants to do business where that can be done.
“I think that’s a positive approach.”
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