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Tories accuse Labour of ‘blatant attempt to influence election’ over tomorrow’s lockdown review

22 Apr 2021 3 minutes Read
First Minister Mark Drakeford AM. Mark Hawkins / Alamy Stock Photo. Andrew RT Davies picture by Senedd Cymru.

The Conservatives have accused First Minister Mark Drakeford of a “blatant attempt to influence May’s election” prior to Friday’s lockdown review.

The Labour leader is expected to say that pubs will be able to open indoors from May 17, as they will in England.

In their own lockdown review map published on 30 March the Conservatives had called for indoor hospitality to be reopened on that date.

But they have now accused Labour of “using the Welsh Government platform” for electoral purposes.

They 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,” Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies 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.”

‘Orderly’

This follows an intervention by Plaid Cymru Adam Price, who has written a letter to the head of the Welsh Government’s civil service, Permanent Secretary Shan Morgan, to demand that she intervene as the “guarantor of the neutrality of the machinery of the state”.

During what’s known as the purdah period of an election, there are rules in place to make sure that no party can use the resources of the government or the civil service to gain an unfair advantage.

According to Price, to “set out the hypothetical policy choices a future Labour administration might make” would break the purdah neutrality rules.

The First Minister had earlier said that bringing forward the easing of some Covid restrictions has nothing to do with the upcoming election in Wales.

Speaking on a BBC Wales Ask The Leader programme Mr Drakeford said: “The coronavirus rates in Wales are the lowest in the UK – the vaccination rates are the best in the UK.

“That creates a context in which we could restore more freedoms to people more quickly than we had anticipated.”

He added that he would add further details on easing the lockdown on Friday: “I want to do it in the orderly way that we do.

“That decision will lie the other side of the election, but I will set out what a Labour government would do in the three weeks that follow the election, as we have regularly given a forward signal to indoor hospitality to the rest of the tourism industry and other things about what we think the public health context would now allow.”

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