Stephen Crabb named as Welsh Secretary in reshuffle

Stephen Crabb MP has been confirmed as the new Welsh Secretary, as part of the Prime Minister's Cabinet reshuffle. It follows the departure of David Jones MP.

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Fresh attempt to settle rail electrification row

New Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb turns to one of the items at the top of his in-tray today -the row between the Welsh and UK governments over who pays for the electrification of the Valley lines. Ministers in Cardiff Bay say Mr Crabb's predecessors, Cheryl Gillan and David Jones, were quick to claim the credit for the giving the multi-million pound project the go ahead, so there's no way that the bill should be passed on.

Today Mr Crabb will hold talks with this cabinet colleague, the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin. The Transport Department argues that as the Welsh Government manages the Wales and Borders rail franchise, it should be responsible for repaying the cost. That would mean either funding a bigger subsidy or putting up the fares.

Only yesterday, the Prime Minister defended what he saw as a done deal but ITV news understands that there might at least be a concession over how quickly the money needs to be repaid. A senior Welsh Government source was also optimistic that the dispute could soon be settled.

Welsh Conservative AMs reinstated on the front bench

Welsh Conservative Leader, Andrew RT Davies has announced a re shuffle of the Shadow Cabinet. Four AMs as expected have been reinstated to the front bench.

Mohammad Ashgar is back in the post of Shaow Minister for Equalities and Sport. Janet Finch-Saunders has been restored to the role of Shadow Minister for Local Government

Nick Ramsay now is responsible for the Shadow brief of Finance. His previous portfolio was Business.

Antoinette Sandbach is now Shadow Minister for Environment. Her previous portfolio was Rural Affairs.The four lost their frontbench positions after defying the party whip on a vote

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Political opponents pledge 'a new start'

During their first Commons encounter since the reshuffle, the new Welsh Secretary and his Labour shadow agreed to use the opportunity of the reshuffle to make 'a fresh start' in relations between Welsh and UK Governments.

We have an opportunity for a new start in the relationship between Wales and the Uk Government here at Westminster because I think it's true to say that many people in Wales have been disheartened by the level of acrimony between politicians in Wales and Westminster and perhaps even across this aisle.

– Owen Smith MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales

Let's use this opportunity to draw a line under all this and restore a much more constructive tone in our dialogue and work towards achieving positive things for people and businesses in Wales because that's what they're looking for.

– Stephen Crabb MP, Secretary of State for Wales
  1. Adrian Masters

Crabb to make Welsh Grand Committee debut

Stephen Crabb will make his first appearance in the Commons today since becoming the new Welsh Secretary. He was promoted to the cabinet by David Cameron who sacked his predecessor, David Jones, on Monday.

There's been a warm welcome for Mr Crabb's appointment from across the political spectrum.

But there's no time to ease himself gently into the job because he has to speak for the Government during a day-long session of the Welsh Grand Committee.

The debate is nominally about the impact on Wales of the UK Government's legislative plans a set out in the Queen's Speech.

But you can bet Labour and Plaid Cymru MPs will seize the opportunity to challenge the new Welsh Secretary over his previous opposition to devolution and what he'll do to resolve a series of disputes with the Welsh Government.

  1. Adrian Masters

Sacked Tory AMs to be reinstated

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies will tomorrow reinstate the four AMs he sacked from his Shadow Cabinet in February. Antoinette Sandbach, Nick Ramsay, Janet Finch-Saunders and Mohammad Asghar were stripped of their rôles after defying the party whip during a Senedd vote.

All four will be given front bench jobs although not necessarily those they were doing before they were sacked. You can read the background to the story by clicking here.

What's changed? The group's dispute sprang from their leader's disagreement with the former Welsh Secretary David Jones. Now that he's been replaced by Stephen Crabb, both sides are looking to heal the breach.

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Watch ITV's interview with the new Welsh Secretary

The new Welsh Secretary has was announced earlier as the MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire Stephen Crabb.

His appointment came as David Jones lost his job yesterday - after just short of two years in the role.

It was part of a major reshuffle by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Our Political Editor Adrian Masters caught up with Stephen Crabb in Westminster this evening.

Alun Cairns is new junior minister

Downing Street has confirmed that Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns is the new junior minister at the Wales Office. He takes over the role from the new Secretary of State, Stephen Crabb.

As was the case when Mr Crabb held the post, Mr Cairns will also be a government whip and do the Wales Office job part time. Both men are Conservative MPs, with the Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Randerson completing the Wales Office ministerial team.

  1. Adrian Masters

Warm welcome for Wales Office team - for now!

There are plenty of good wishes for the new Welsh Secretary and his new deputy but there are signs that those warm feelings are likely to last longer with some than others. The First Minister is hoping for a new approach from Stephen Crabb towards the Welsh Government in a number of disputed areas.

The warm welcome from Andrew RT Davies for the appointment of both men is likely to be much more durable. It's no secret that tensions in the Assembly Tory group stemmed from their leader's poor relationship with the former Welsh Secretary. Mr Davies now has a chance to reunite his troubled team.

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