Plaid-Welsh Government cooperation agreement ‘risks break up of the UK’ says former Welsh Secretary Simon Hart
The cooperation agreement between Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Government is “risking the break-up of the United Kingdom” according to the former Welsh Secretary Simon Hart.
The Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MP, who was Welsh Secretary before resigning last month, made the claim in an article backing Rishi Sunak for the Conservative party leadership.
The article is co-signed by Welsh Conservative MPs Craig Williams, Fay Jones, Jamie Wallis, Stephen Crabb, Alun Cairns, and Simon Baynes, as well as Senedd Members Sam Rowlands, Peter Fox, Natasha Asghar, Darren Millar, Gareth Davies and Russell George.
The article promises that a Rishi Sunak-led UK Government would be ” the most active UK government in Wales in the history of devolution” and that the “legacy of devolve and forget cannot continue”.
Simon Hart’s comments in the Telegraph point to a Rishi Sunak leadership that would be happy to intervene on devolved issues, and follow an article by Rishi Sunak himself yesterday in which he made the same case.
“With the Welsh Labour Government and Plaid Cymru’s Co-Operation Agreement risking the break-up of the United Kingdom and constitutional chaos, we need strong leadership and a Conservative majority government to take Wales forward,” the article by Simon Hart said.
“Rishi’s government would be the most active UK government in Wales in the history of devolution, and unlike the Welsh Labour Government, will level-up towns and communities throughout Wales. The simple truth is that someone in Aberystwyth or Abersoch should have the same opportunities as someone in London, Leeds or Bristol. The legacy of devolve and forget cannot continue.”
He added: “Rishi wants to drive Wales forward as part of a thriving United Kingdom. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Rishi saw first-hand how the Welsh Government was keen to diverge from the UK Government where they could. ]
“It’s no secret that direct Welsh Government policies saw more Covid-19 deaths per head of population than in any other part of the UK.”
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will face questions from Welsh Conservative members in a hustings in Cardiff later today.
The article in the Telegraph follows one in the Western Mail newspaper yesterday by Rishi Sunak himself in which he said that he had an “unrivalled” vision for Wales.
“Division is something that Plaid Cymru has tried to feed off in Wales, and we know that they excel at provoking splits between neighbours, friends and communities,” he said.
“It’s the job of whoever is the next Prime Minister to tackle this head on, and to bring everyone back together.”
He added that “we had to change our approach to Wales, and as Prime Minister I will build on that”.
“We cannot operate a ‘devolve and forget’ mentality, operating as a funding mechanism for the Welsh Government and hoping they will fix issues on their own,” he said. “Wales deserves better.”
Welsh Labour’s Jo Stevens commented ahead of the Tory leadership hustings in Cardiff: “I’d like to welcome the Tory leadership hopefuls to Cardiff. Neither Liz Truss nor Rishi Sunak has had anything to say about Wales during this campaign, but their record of 12 years of Tory neglect tells us all we need to know: a high-tax, low-growth economy and the biggest drop in living standards since records began.
“Wales doesn’t need another Boris Johnson continuity prime minister. With u-turn after u-turn in their campaigns, it’s clear neither candidate is any more trustworthy than the outgoing PM.
“Only a UK Labour government led by Keir Starmer working with our Welsh Labour government led by Mark Drakeford can get the economy firing on all cylinders and deliver the fresh start we need.”
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