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Tories hit back at First Minister over EU budget

The Conservative leader of the Opposition in the Assembly has swiftly responded to the First Minister's attack on the EU budget deal. Andrew RT Davies says David Cameron achieved 'an historic agreement' in Brussels last Friday and he's accused Carwyn Jones of 'opportunistic whinging'.

This is in contrast to the previous Labour Government which gave up £2 billion of Britain’s rebate and agreed increases to the EU budget of 47%. Carwyn Jones’ opportunism whingeing about a cut to the EU budget leaves him totally at odds with Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Labour’s MEPs, who are all supporting the agreed cut. It’s only because of Labour’s squandering of billions of pounds of EU structural funds, that West Wales and the Valleys remain amongst the poorest regions of Europe and are set to qualify for a third tranche of funding.

– Leader of the Opposition Andrew RT Davies AM

The Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, said on Friday that if the Prime Minister had secured a 'genuine real terms cut' in the EU Budget then he will have delivered what Labour and Parliament demanded.

'I would campaign against EU superstate' - Welsh Tory leader

The leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Assembly has told me that he'd campaign for a 'No' vote in a future referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union if voting 'Yes' meant heading towards a 'greater Federal Europe.'

His comments follow the Prime Minister's pledge to renegotiate the UK's relationship with Brussels and, after that, to give voters their say in a referendum. I asked him whether or not he'd campaign for a 'Yes' or a 'No' vote in that referendum.

You can see the interview in tonight's edition of Sharp End 1035pm ITV Cymru Wales.

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Opposition leader welcomes Assembly recall

Opposition leader Andrew RT Davies has welcomed the Presiding Officer's decision to recall the Assembly on 19th December. He said:

While we deplore the laziness and inaction of Labour Ministers, which brought about this debacle, we welcome the cross party discussions which have resulted in this sensible agreement to recall Assembly Members.

Although not perfect, this timetable will allow robust scrutiny of the Welsh Government’s proposals and ensure the effective implementation of Council Tax support.

– Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Opposition

Bitter row over council tax vote deal claims

A bitter dispute has broken out between the Welsh Government and Welsh Conservatives in the wake of Labour's failed attempts to push through new council tax benefit rules. Opposition leader Andrew RT Davies says his group had reached an agreement which would have 'facilitated' a vote on the rules.

We were working until the day before (the vote) to find a way to facilitiate this. We believed we had found a way to facilitiate it. But at lunchtime on Wednesday, the Welsh Government refused to take up the offer.

– Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Opposition

He said that he'd made the agreement with Local Government Minister Carl Sargeant on Tuesday night and denied that he was holding out for spending commitments. But the Welsh Government is categorically denying not only that there was any agreement, but that negotiations took place at all.

A source told me that 'they (the Conservatives) came with a set of demands and we showed them the door.' The source added:

On Wednesday, the Welsh Tory Leader approached the Welsh Government with a set of totally unacceptable, inappropriate and unrelated demands, in order to secure their support to get the vote through the Assembly.

Not content with deliberately trying to impose needless financial uncertainty on 330,000 Welsh households over Christmas and the New Year, the Welsh Tories tried to exploit the situation for their own narrow political ends. Their behaviour was reprehensible.

The Welsh Government’s response to the Welsh Tory Leader and his grubby deal, was to show him the door. No negotiations took place and nothing was offered.

– Welsh Government source

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Welsh opposition leader asks PM to consider Wales as future G8 host

The Opposition leader in the Assembly, Andrew RT Davies, has written to David Cameron asking him to consider holding the G8 summit in Wales when it's next the UK's turn. It'll be held in Northern Ireland next year but won't return to the UK until 2021.

I see no reason why Wales should not host the governments of eight of the world's largest economies.

We are now the only part of the UK that hasn’t done so and serious consideration should be given to a Welsh venue in 2021.

There are numerous hotels - or even castles and racecourses - that would easily rise to the challenge.

Wales’ turn on the G8 stage is overdue and I hope the Prime Minister takes this proposal forward.

By-election shows 'we are the only real opposition in Wales' - Conservatives

The leader of the Opposition in the Assembly has congratulated his party's candidate in the Cardiff South and Penarth by-election. Andrew RT Davies says the second-place won by Craig Williams shows the Welsh Conservatives have 'the action and ambition to achieve for Wales.'

Craig fought a determined campaign and I congratulate him on retaining second place – ahead of both the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru.

This is a successful result that continues to show we are the only real opposition in Wales.

13 years of lazy Labour-led Welsh Governments have left Wales the poorest part of the UK – and still they lack the ambition to get us back on track.

Their second-rate budget deal with Plaid will continue their record-breaking NHS cuts, while we remain without crucial details on enterprise zones, solid decisions on business rates relief, and improvements to inward investment.

Welsh Conservatives are the only party with the action and ambition to achieve for Wales and help our country become stronger and more resilient than ever before.

'A cheap and second-rate' budget deal - Conservatives

The budget deal reached between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru has been criticised by Welsh Conservatives as a 'cheap deal that hails the return of an old and ineffective tage team.' That's a barbed reference to the fact that the two parties were previously in coalition government together.

The party's Shadow Finance Minister Paul Davies said:

Plaid has been bought for far less than anyone expected in what is effectively a second-rate trade-off.

The government will decide on exactly how this money is spent, not Plaid. We’re in for more of the same lazy Labour – easily spending very little to get votes.

This is nowhere near enough for the economy. We’re still missing crucial details on enterprise zones, solid decisions on business rates relief, and improvements to inward investment.

Our NHS will still face record-breaking cuts, immense pressure on frontline services, and hospital downgrades. That’s unacceptable and unnecessary.

Meanwhile Opposition leader Andrew RT Davies said,

The creation of apprenticeships is just one part of a much wider economic problem.

There is a great deal more that could be achieved with the right action and ambition.

I suspect Plaid’s internal struggles have pushed its leader into a cut-rate deal, dictated not by her, but on the whim of others.

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