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Call for Tory leader to have Brexit role rebuffed by Welsh Govt

There's been a swift rebuff from the Welsh Government for a call to give Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies the chair of a committee advising the Welsh Government on Brexit.

The chair of Vote Leave in Wales, the former Welsh Secretary David Jones had suggested that as Carwyn Jones proved to be out of touch with Welsh opinion on leaving the European Union, the First Minister should turn to Mr Davies for advice.

The proposal produced an unusually swift -and blunt- rejection by the Welsh Government.

We don’t see any merit in this idea. The Welsh Government will work through the consequences of the vote in good faith in the interests of the people of Wales. The National Assembly for Wales is in the process of seeing up a new, more open and transparent Committee structure and the consequences of the Brexit vote will no doubt feature heavily on upcoming agendas.

– Welsh Government Spokesperson

Vote Leave says Tory leader should head Welsh response to Brexit

Former Welsh Secretary David Jones, who led the Vote Leave campaign in Wales, says Carwyn Jones and Leanne Wood should both support making Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies the chair of a committee in charge of shaping Wales' response to the Brexit vote.

The result of the referendum highlighted just how out of step the First Minister and Leader of the opposition were with the people they represent on this issue.

That’s why I would urge the First Minister to be gracious in defeat, and establish an advisory committee of AMs to drive forward Wales’ response to the referendum result.

Andrew RT Davies could potentially be an ideal candidate to chair such a committee, having taking the brave step of backing the campaign to leave the EU, and I’m sure that he would have the support of other leave campaigners here in Wales – including those in UKIP who also played such an influential role in the campaign.

– Vote Leave Cymru Chair David Jones MP

David Jones says Mr Davies could complement "rather than seeking to usurp" the role of the Welsh Government. Meanwhile the First Minister has demanded assurances that the Leave campaign's promise to safeguard aid to Wales will be kept.

One of the most immediate concerns facing us as a government is the future of around half a billion pounds a year which Wales currently receives from the EU to support our farming industry and to bring greater prosperity to some of our most deprived communities.

During the referendum campaign, the Leave side made cast iron promises that this money would continue to come to Wales in the event of a vote to leave the EU. I have today written to the Prime Minister asking him to confirm that every penny of this funding is safe.

We require this funding assurance immediately, as there are hundreds of vital EU-funded projects right across Wales whose future is now in the balance unless that funding guarantee is given. Let me be absolutely clear. These projects are designed to improve people’s lives, their environment and the infrastructure they rely on every day, and we are proud of what they have already delivered. But if that pledge is not honoured by the UK Government, it will have a devastating effect on our budgets, already stretched through years of austerity, and facing billions more in cuts as a result. It will make the difficult decisions we already face even harder. So it is critical there is a positive response to my letter, and I will make it public as soon as receive it.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

The First Minister said that the Wel;sh Government would base a team of civil servants in Brussels to explore independently of the UK Government how Welsh priorities can be taken forward directly with the EU. He said he also expected Welsh Government participation in the UK Government’s Brexit negotiations.

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First Minister backs Syrian airstrikes if Prime Minister sets clear objectives

First Minister Carwyn Jones has given qualified support to the RAF bombing Isis targets in Syria but he told AMs that the Prime Minister needs to explain who would provide the forces on the ground to complete the task and bring peace.

Questioned by Conservative leader, Andrew RT Davies, the First Minister confirmed that he had no objection in principle to extending air raids on Iraq to include Syria.

There's no difference between Iraq and Syria at the moment, the border has effectively disappeared. What concerns me is that we should not do what happened in Iraq, more than a decade ago, to take military action without thinking what the end game is.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

Mr Jones acknowledged that his view was different to some in the Labour party. Mr Davies told him that both as First Minister and as Labour's most senior elected politician he had a responsibility to ensure support for Britain's armed forces once they were sent into combat.

  1. Nick Powell

Wales won't get extra NHS money says First Minister

First Minister Carwyn Jones has told AMs that the Welsh Government will get almost no more money as a result of the UK Government's announcement of extra funding for the English NHS. Increases in England lead to matching percentage increases for Wales under the Barnett Formula but Mr Jones said they'd be cancelled out by cuts in other parts of the English health budget. The First Minister dismissed as naïve a call from the Conservative leader for any extra money to be given to the Welsh NHS.

Today the Chancellor has announced £3.8 billion worth of extra money for the English NHS in the next financial year. There will be a Barnett consequential for that uplift. Will you commit to ringfencing that money in the next budget round so that it is put into the Welsh NHS?

– Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies AM

Is he saying to us today that there will be a full consequential to Wales as a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review? Because our understanding is entirely different. What was being trailed on the radio this morning is that there will be cuts in public health and medical education and that money will be transferred to the NHS budget. There will be no consequential if that happens. So if he thinks there will be a consequential in those circumstances, I'm afraid his naïvety overtakes his perception.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

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Welsh Tory leader sees case for more AMs

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies has signalled that his party is no longer totally opposed to an increase in the number of Assembly Members, so long as the "total cost of democracy" does not go up. Mr Davies says the Welsh Government's growing powers and responsibilities make it difficult for an Assembly with so few backbenchers to hold it to account.

Are we really going to have another five years with just 60 AMs? It's already evident that there are huge pressures on the Assembly's ability to scrutinise the government.

– Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies AM

It's possible that an increase in AMs could be linked to a cut in the number of local councillors as part of the local authority mergers expected in the next few years. Also the Conservatives are likely to revive plans to cut the number of Welsh MPs from 40 to 30 if they're still in power at Westminster after May's election.

Welsh Tory leader rejects police devolution - for now

Andrew RT Davies says he's against the devolution of policing powers Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies is to tell his party that he's opposed to the devolution of responsibility for the police from the Home Office to the Welsh Government. In a speech to Tory activists he'll say that there is no current evidence to support the idea and that "serious questions must be answered" before it can be considered.

Policing was one of the few areas of disagreement when the Welsh party leaders met to reach a joint position on further devolution. Any explicit reference to the police was dropped from the joint motion that they will ask AMs to debate. But it does call on the UK government to "make progress on Silk 2", meaning the second report of the Commission on Devolution, which did call for the police to be devolved.

Let’s look at the evidence on policing. Since 2010, crime in Wales has fallen by 15 per cent. In many ways, the Conservatives have gone beyond police devolution in England and Wales with the creation of Police and Crime Commissioners.

So today, I want to say clearly, the evidence is yet to be made for the devolution of policing. We know that the Welsh Labour Government and the other parties want these powers, but the question is, do Welsh Labour MPs support these moves? I think not. Just take a look at the comments of some Welsh Labour MPs and you’ll see very clearly that they disagree.

– Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies AM

Mr Davies is not totally ruling out Welsh control of the police. Instead he says that there must be a series of "clear commitments and promises" before the Welsh Conservatives can support any change.

  • Front line services must not be affected
  • The Welsh Government must say how the fall in crime will continue
  • The police themselves must be given a say in what should happen
  • The Welsh Government must set out its priorities for the £1.2 billion Welsh police budget

Mr Davies argues that Wales has fallen behind in too many areas for which the Welsh Government is responsible and that must not happen to the police. He will also claim that the First Minister has "forgotten his day job" and is giving too much attention to constitutional reform, rather than concentrating on health, education and the economy.

The issues surrounding future devolution in Wales are hugely important. Of that there is no doubt. This week’s cross-party agreement on the broad principles to take forward and collaborate upon reflects that. There is work to do and there are discussions to take place. But constitutional change doesn’t take place overnight.

Labour’s First Minister is so wrapped up in the constitution he can’t see the wood for the trees. He’s forgotten his day job.

Carwyn – Stop diverting attention from your domestic failures. Constitutional questions must be answered but not at the expense of the economy and public services.

– Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies AM

First Minister's hand-written apology to Opposition leader

Carwyn Jones says he's sent a hand-written note of apology to the Opposition Leader after their angry exchanges in the Senedd last week. The First Minister had questioned Andrew RT Davies' absence from a meeting between Welsh political leaders and Prince Charles.

He apologised in the chamber after Mr Davies said he'd been ill himself and caring for his mother-in-law following a stroke. But Carwyn Jones told his monthly press conference that he followed up that apology with a personal note which the Conservative leader had 'graciously accepted.'

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