UK Government accused of using Wales-England transport links as ‘a political weapon of unionism’
A Welsh MP has accused the UK Government of using transport as a “political weapon of unionism” as they revealed a plan to focus on cross-border transport links between Wales and England.
The Union Connectivity Review published today will be a means of “binding” the UK together according to UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
But Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts said the report by Sir Peter Hendy aimed to make Wales an “extension of the West of England”.
“Two UK transport strategies in two weeks – the Integrated Rail Plan and the Union Connectivity Review – have delivered nothing to Wales except more Westminster bluster and rhetoric,” she said. “Transport should never be a political weapon of unionism.
“While I welcome Sir Peter Hendy’s thoroughness, the plain facts are that Westminster underfunds our railways and considers our transport needs as an extension of the West of England.
“Greater dependency on England has left us where we are. Instead, we need to properly resource Transport for Wales to deliver on Wales’ transport priorities, secure our HS2 Barnett consequential, and further our green transition by supporting public transport services.”
‘Strengthen the ties’
The Union Connectivity Review proposes major overhauls of the transport connections across the north and south of Wales and England. Branded ‘UKNET’, the finished network would see “a strategic transport network for the whole of the United Kingdom”.
Specifically, in Wales the plan will aim to bring about fast journey times across the border on the A55 and M4, faster journey times from England across the South Wales and North Wales main lines and rail links from the English Midlands to Cardiff.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that Transport was key to “binding the family of nations that is the United Kingdom closer together”.
“It is not good enough that certain areas of the UK thrive while others fall behind. We must realise our full national potential and that means mobilising the resources and skills of all parts of this country,” he said.
“I am indebted to Sir Peter for his work. We will consider his recommendations carefully, engage closely with the devolved administrations, and work collegiately to ensure these proposals strengthen the ties that bind us, now and for the future.”