UK Government ‘fanning the flames of seperatism’ in Wales says Labour MP
The UK Government are “fanning the flames of separatism” in Wales with their attitude towards the other nations of the UK, a Welsh Labour MP has claimed.
Nia Griffith, the MP for Llanelli, said that the Conservatives were showing “brazen disregard for the devolution settlement” and had decided to “ignore the Welsh Government” when handing out levelling up funds.
She added however that it was not the UK Government in itself that was the problem but rather the people running it.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Nia Griffith said: “The way the Conservatives are running the levelling-up fund and the community renewal fund shows brazen disregard for the devolution settlement.
“The Tory UK Government are completely ignoring not only the Welsh Government, but the partnership work done between the Welsh Government and Welsh local government leaders on strategic priorities.
“Instead, we have an England-focused Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which has not dealt with Wales since pre-devolution days in 1999, and which has allowed previous Tory Ministers to give money to each other’s constituencies, to the detriment of more disadvantaged areas. Will the current Secretary of State be any better?
“Again, that contrasts with the close working relationship that the Welsh Labour Government have with the leaders of the 22 Welsh unitary authorities, whatever their political colour, throughout the pandemic, recognising the vital role and burdens that councils have shouldered.
“We can contrast that with what we hear from council leaders in England about the lack of consultation with the Tory Government. In dealing with the covid pandemic, time after time there was no real consultation, nor even sometimes any communication from the UK Tory Government to the other nations of the UK.
“Perhaps that should not surprise us, given the poor communication even within the Tory Cabinet and the Prime Minister’s absence from Cobra meetings, but it has serious consequences. It is not only a poor way to run the UK; it also fans the flames of separatism.
“It is important that we pin the blame clearly on the Conservative Government for the way they behave, rather than allowing the idea to take hold that it is the existence of a UK Government that is the problem.
“As we talk about a better balance of power, wealth and opportunity across the UK, we must also celebrate the huge benefit that comes with being part of the UK and being able to tackle big problems such as climate change together.”
During the same debate, Conservative MP Simon Baynes said that the levelling up funds needed to be handed put by the UK Government because parts of Waleshad been “historically been starved of investment by the Welsh Labour Government in Cardiff bay”.
“Part of the issue that we are dealing with is that Labour almost entirely represents south Wales, and it has only one seat north of the valleys, in Alyn and Deeside,” the Clwyd South MP said.
“Therefore, it does not surprise me that Labour Members really do not understand how much people in north Wales feel left behind and uncared for by the Welsh Government. I am afraid that her remark bears out exactly what I am saying.”
Craig Williams added that devolution was all about “power nd control” for Welsh Labour.
“I have seen the discussions around what mutual respect means for Labour Members,” the Bridgend MP said.
“They do not mean mutual respect; they mean that they want the Welsh Government to control all decisions. It is not about putting things together; it is about having a veto over what this Government are doing.”
He added: “Looking at the political map of this place, above the Brecon Beacons there is beginning to be a political discourse of two countries—or three with mid-Wales—where there is a palpable feeling of neglect coming from the south Wales Labour party, as we see it.
“That is the theme of devolution since Labour has been at the helm—power and control.
“I very much welcome the increase in funding to the local authorities, especially the rural ones. I am big enough to say from the Conservative Benches that the First Minister of Wales got many of the decisions right during covid, and he did a good job in the round, but now is the time to restore the civil liberties to my constituents and to Wales.
“Now is the time to back off from the day-to-day control and, I am afraid, the nanny state, to a certain degree, that seems to develop around the covid rates.”
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