Wales Secretary ‘wants to get families and firms through challenging winter’
The new Secretary of State for Wales has said his first priority is to get families and businesses “through this challenging winter”.
Veteran Tory politician David TC Davies, was promoted to the Cabinet role on Tuesday by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after his predecessor Sir Robert Buckland resigned.
The Monmouth MP backed Mr Sunak in the most recent leadership contest after voting in September for Liz Truss, whose premiership came to an end after just 49 days.
Mr Davies told PA news agency it was a “privilege and an honour to be appointed” and that he would “promote the interests of the people of Wales”.
“I would like to thank the Prime Minister for the trust that has been placed in me,” Mr Davies said on Wednesday after first Cabinet meeting in Downing Street.
“We now have a new Prime Minister and a new Cabinet who are determined to focus on delivering for the people that we serve.
“I look forward to working alongside my colleagues in Westminster and with the Welsh Government on the common goal of improving lives and increasing opportunity for all the people of Wales.
“Wales and the rest of the UK face significant challenges,” he added.
“I understand that the cost of living and the economic situation are having a significant impact on every single person in the country.
“My first priority is to help ensure families, businesses and individuals across Wales are helped through this challenging winter.
“I promise to be a strong advocate for Wales around the Cabinet table, doing all I can to promote the interests of the people of Wales.”
Mr Davies said he wanted to work on growing investment in Wales including unlocking the country’s potential for producing renewable and nuclear energy, and ensuring it continues to benefit from the union.
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford congratulated Mr Davies on his new role and said: “We look forward to building a constructive relationship as we work together for the benefit of the people of Wales.”
Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies said: “David will be invaluable in ensuring Wales is at the heart of the UK Government.”
It is understood the Welsh Government believed it had begun to build a good working relationship with Mr Buckland during his short four months in the post.
Having served as junior minister in the Wales Office since 2019 Mr Davies has had no shortage of clashes with Welsh MPs and the Welsh Government over matters including Covid pandemic rules, coal tip safety and the state of the union, therefore it remains to be seen if he can foster cooperation between his Government and other parties.
Mr Drakeford who revealed on Twitter that he had received a phone call from Mr Sunak on Tuesday night said he had told the new PM the last thing people in Wales need is a “further dose of Tory austerity”.
Former PM Liz Truss did not once call Mr Drakeford or Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during her brief time in office, breaking with the informal tradition of contacting the leaders of devolved governments shortly after coming into office.
Mr Davies was born in London but was brought up in South Wales and went to Bassaleg School, a comprehensive school just outside of Newport.
After leaving school he went to work for British Steel and joined the Territorial Army, serving for 18 months as a Gunner with 104 Air Defence Regiment at Raglan Barracks.
He also worked for his family’s shipping company, Burrow Heath Ltd and served as a Special Constable for nine years with the British Transport Police.
He was elected as a Welsh Assembly member for Monmouth in 1999 and held the seat until 2007.
In 2005 he was first elected to parliament and has ever since been Monmouth’s representative in Westminster.
Chair of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee between 2010 and 2019, Mr Davies was also an assistant government whip from February 2020 to July this year.
His appointment means the Government will avoid the criticism it faced over having an MP representing a seat in England as Welsh Secretary.
Sir Robert, who is from Llanelli in South Wales, was the MP for South Swindon.
Mr Davies is also a fluent Welsh speaker and went on Welsh language channel S4C’s political programme Y Byd yn ei Le – The World in its Place – two weeks ago to defend the Government’s mini-budget.
He told presenters: “The budget has had an effect, and it’s had an effect on the markets, on mortgage payments, there’s no two ways about it – I accept that.
“But if we hadn’t done anything, the fact that many businesses wouldn’t be able to pay their bills, that lots of homes wouldn’t be able to afford their bills, would also have had an effect.
“There’s no simple answer.”
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