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Wales’ Government should stop ‘fretting’ about their ‘little status’ Welsh Secretary says

24 Feb 2021 2 minutes Read
Simon Hart (left) by Chris McAndrew (CC BY 3.0).

The Welsh Secretary Simon Hart has said that Wales’ Government should stop “fretting” about their “little status” following the decision that a levelling up fund will be controlled from Whitehall.

UK ministers will decide how some of the cash is spent on schemes such as regeneration projects in Wales, prompting the Welsh Government to accuse them of “aggressively undermining” Wales’ autonomy.

But Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said that he wished they would “stop fretting about their own little status in Cardiff and actually look at the bigger picture”.

“This is not about politicians and power – this is about jobs, livelihoods and post-Covid recovery,” he told the BBC.

A Welsh Government spokesman said that the levelling up fund meant that the UK Government was “aggressively undermining the outcome of two referendums which backed Welsh devolution”.

“The UK Government was not elected to take decisions or spend money in areas that are devolved to Wales,” they said.

“It is also an example of the unconstitutional Internal Market legislation, which was rejected by the Senedd, being used to stop decisions about Wales being taken in Wales.”

‘Cronies’

Former Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones had earlier said that Westminster plans to “divert money away from Wales”.

He said: “The only reason they would do this is to divert money away from Wales, Scotland and NI and give a greater proportion to England. Barnett shares would have stopped that. And it’s still nowhere close to what the EU funding pot was.”

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster Leader Liz Saville-Roberts added: “Be under no illusions – this has nothing to do with ‘levelling up’. This is about undermining Welsh democracy and the proven priorities of our country.

“Our communities are crying out for funding. But with an election around the corner, it’s clear that this Tory funding won’t be spent to remedy the long-term needs of Wales but will be allocated according to political interests.

“Boris Johnson and his cronies in Westminster should have no hand in deciding which projects receive funding.

“The Tories have set themselves on collision course with the best interests of Wales at every given opportunity. Only independence can reset this hostile relationship.”

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