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No Welsh voices on Boris Johnson’s ‘levelling up council’

20 Jan 2021 2 minute read
Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture by Chatham House (CC BY 2.0)

Boris Johnson’s “levelling up council” has been criticised for having no Welsh voices on it.

When announcing the Build Back Better Council, the British Prime Minister said it would “level up opportunity for people and businesses across the UK”, but of the 30 members, 22 are in London, and none are from Wales.

The Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters said the make up of the council proved the “Tories don’t care about Wales”, but Mr Johnson insisted it would “provide an important forum for frank feedback on our recovery plans”.

One member of the council is based in the north of England, two are in the Midlands, one in Cambridge and one in Scotland. None work for firms headquartered in Wales or Northern Ireland. The other three are located in commuter towns within 25 miles of the UK capital.

Lee Waters said: “Words are one thing, action another. Not a single Welsh voice on ‘build back better’ advisory Council. The Tories don’t care about Wales.”

The council includes the Coventry-based chief executive of water firm Severn Trent, Liv Garfield, whose salary has been reported as £2.7m. The company has substantial assets in Wales, including Lake Vyrnwy in Powys.


A government spokesperson defended the appointments, saying: “The Build Back Better Council members have significant operations across the UK, employing tens of thousands of people in factories, R&D campuses, shops and forecourts across the Midlands and the north of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“Council members were selected because of their long-term commitment to the UK economy and their combined capability to increase business investment, get the economy moving and create jobs across the entire country.”

Other members on the council include executives from corporations such as Google, Heathrow Airport, British Airways and Unilever.

Outside London and the commuter belt there is the chief executive of Siemens, who is based in Manchester, and the chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover who is based in Coventry. The sole representative from Scotland is Ian Wood of the engineering consultancy Wood in Aberdeen. Poppy Gustafsson from the cyber-security firm Darktrace in Cambridge is also on the council.

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