Welsh Conservative resigns from shadow cabinet over Internal Market Bill

David Melding. Picture by the National Assembly (CC BY 2.0)

A Conservative Senedd Member has resigned from the Welsh Conservative front bench citing his concern about the Internal Market Bill.

David Melding said that he had believed that the union was in danger and that the publishing of the bill had done “nothing to lessen my anxieties”.

“Indeed they have been gravely aggravated by the decisions made in the last few days by the Prime Minister,” he said.

In a letter to Welsh Conservative leader Paul Davies he said that he had had “misgivings for some time about aspects of the UK Government’s approach to developing a new relationship with the EU and aligning devolved governance with the demands of an internal market in the UK.

“The publication today of the Internal Market Bill has done nothing to lessen my anxieties about the dangers facing our 313-year-old Union. Indeed they have been gravely aggravated by the decisions madein the last few days by the Prime Minister.

“It is clearly not feasible for me to continue in my post of shadow Counsel General while holding such reservations. Furthermore, I believe it time to step down from all my shadow cabinet responsibilities as I will feel it necessary to speak out against what I consider to be a lack of statecraft at this crucial time for the UK’s very survival as a multi­ national state.

“I will offer you all possible support from the backbenches and I wish you well as the leader in forging the basis for alternative government to Welsh Labour, an alternative needed now more than ever before.

“It has been an honour to serve you in the shadow cabinet and only these utterly irregular constitutional times have forced me into this course of action.”

 

‘Sacrifice’

It was not immediately clear what about the Internal Market Bill had displeased David Melding but it was roundly criticised by other pro-devolution parties for putting the UK in peril.

The Welsh Labour Government in Wales condemned the bill, saying that it is “an attack on democracy” which will “sacrifice the future of the union by stealing powers from devolved administrations”.

They argue that new spending rules contained in the Bill will allow the UK Government to force projects in devolved areas such as economic development, infrastructure, culture, sport and education.

David Melding AM announced in February that he would not be contesting the 2021 Senedd election.

The Conservative AM has represented the South Wales Central region since the first Welsh Assembly was formed in May 1999.

He served as the Deputy Presiding Officer between 2011 and 2016.

He is one of only five AMs, alongside Elin Jones, Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Kirsty Williams and Carwyn Jones, to have remained an AM since 1999.

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