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Sharp End

This week's Sharp End looks at the fallout from the Welsh Conservative conference and issues raised by the clearing of Nigel Evans MP.

Illegal tobacco in Wales

An undercover investigation by ITV Cymru Wales has found that illegal tobacco in some parts of the country is widespread, and easy to find.

Sharp End title

Sharp End

The Deputy Prime Minister is this week's interviewee in a programme which also looks at the experience of Welsh soldiers in Afghanistan

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Welsh Conservative divide deepens

by Adrian Masters

There's no sign of an end to tensions within the Welsh Conservatives at the end of a turbulent week. Catch up with the story so far by clicking here. During a heated conference call earlier, those at the top of the party in Wales have told Andrew RT Davies they disagree with his actions.

Sources close to Mr Davies say he has the right as Opposition Leader to decide who's in his team even if the Board of Welsh Conservatives disagrees with him. Others say the Board reflects widespread unhappiness. I've even heard the term 'untenable position' used. That's dismissed by a spokesperson:

We do not recognise these bizarre comments – which are entirely anonymous and source-led.

This is a weak story – based around unnamed sources.

Welsh Conservatives are united in providing a strong and modern voice for Wales and a real alternative to a lazy Labour government that has run out of ideas.

– Welsh Conservative spokesperson

What is true that an arcane dispute over the use of a power the Welsh Government doesn't have and currently looks unlikely to have in the near future, has become a make-or-break moment with massive ramifications for Welsh Conservatives. Quite simply it will decide who runs the party in Wales.

'No income tax power without referendum' insists UK Government

by Adrian Masters

There have been swift moves to quash suggestions I reported on earlier that income tax-varying powers could be devolved without a referendum. A source close to the Secretary of State told me there is 'no question of imposing [tax devolution] on the people of Wales.'

The source said the UK Government's position is unchanged: we intend to proceed with a referendum and will call for as early a vote as possible. Welsh Conservatives will campaign for a 'Yes' vote to give Wales a competitive edge.'

Could income tax power be imposed on Wales?

by Adrian Masters

I understand that some MPs in the government parties are considering the possibility of pushing through plans to transfer tax-varying powers to Wales without a referendum because of what they see as Labour 'intransigence' on the issue. The current plans require a referendum before any such move.

If you want to catch up on the row, and see why Labour thinks the proposal is a politically-motivated 'trap,' click here, here and here. The other parties believe Labour is angry that devolution has been taking out of its hands for the first time.

One Conservative source said that 'intransigence' raises 'serious questions about the way in which fiscal responsibility can be imposed on the Welsh Government' and used the word 'imposed' deliberately. It's controversial even to suggest and is a sign of exasperation on the government benches.

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