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  1. ITV Report

Tory fury over Labour claims of 'outright lie' by Cairns

UK Government sources have reacted with fury to a claim by Welsh Labour that Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns told an 'outright lie' to the Conservative party conference.

Alun Cairns with the Chief Executive of Qatar Airways and the British Ambassador to Qatar Credit: Foreign Office

The UK Government has secured major investments from companies like Aston Martin, multi billion pound Ministry of Defence contracts in North Wales. We are also improving our rail infrastructure with the most modern trains coming to Wales later this month, as well as securing – for the first time – a new daily air route to Qatar – connecting Wales to the world like never before.

– Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns MP

There is often friction between the Wales Office and the Welsh government over who gets the credit for good economic news, so Mr Cairns' speech was always likely to get a reaction.

It was the reference to Cardiff Airport's new service to Qatar that left Labour claiming that the Welsh Secretary had gone beyond exaggeration.

It’s simply untrue for Alun Cairns to claim any credit for bringing Qatar Airways to Wales. He played absolutely no part whatsoever and any claim to the contrary is an outright lie - the credit for Qatar Airways lies with Cardiff Airport. We all know that Alun Cairns would have happily seen Cardiff Airport close and his hard-line refusal to devolve air passenger duty continues to undermine our national airport.

– Welsh Labour Spokesperson

Welsh Government insiders had previously suggested that Alun Cairns was overstating his role in securing the new flights to Qatar, which he visited this weekend.

But, a source close to the Secretary of State responded with some annoyance to Labour's suggestion of an outright lie, describing it as "absolutely wrong".

It was pointed out that only a UK Government minister could instruct the British Ambassador to Qatar to support Cardiff's plans - or to arrange for the RAF Red Arrows to fly to the Gulf state to take part in Qatar Airways' 20th anniversary celebrations.