Focus on UK agenda and avoid 'interference' with Welsh affairs, Mark Drakford tells Liz Truss

  • Mark Drakeford issues a message of advice for the new PM

The First Minister Mark Drakeford has advised the new prime minister to focus on issues that are the UK Government's responsibility and avoid "constant interference" with matters in Wales.

Mr Drakeford congratulated Liz Truss on winning her "bitter battle" to become the new leader of the Conservative Party and in turn, the UK's new prime minister.

But he also advised her to let Welsh ministers "get on with the things [they] are elected to do without without constant interference from London".

Mr Drakeford said: "The immediate issue of course are the energy bills and the impact of inflation that is being felt by every family here in Wales."

He urged the newly elected head of state to work "with urgency" to help families with rising bills ahead of this winter.

He said: "We now need to work together, with urgency, to tackle the cost of living crisis and save millions from hardship this winter."There is no more time to waste - action is needed now."

Liz Truss previously called Mark Drakeford "a low energy Corbyn". Credit: PA Images

Mr Drakeford said he does not agree with Liz Truss' belief that cutting taxes is the way to help struggling individuals.

He said: "It does nothing at all for those many many families who pay no tax at all.

"For pensioners, people with disabilities - that will do nothing at all to put money in their pockets and it will reward people who are already amongst the best rewarded in the whole of our nation."

Previously, Liz Truss said she would act within a week on the soaring cost of energy bills if she were to become PM. However she refused to set out any concrete detail as to what this action would look like.

In her victory speech, Ms Truss told Tory party members that she "will deliver on the energy crisis, dealing with people’s energy bills but also dealing with the long-term issues we have on energy supply".

However relations between her government and Mark Drakeford's may not be off to the best of starts as during the leadership contest she described Wales' First Minister as a “low energy Jeremy Corbyn”.

She has also accused both the Welsh and Scottish governments of playing political games.

The First Minister said he will be looking to build a "constructive" and "cooperative" relationship with Liz Truss and her government.

He added: "A relationship that respects the fact that there are four different parliaments in the United Kingdom where we have to find common ground and work together."

His advice to the new prime minister was to "focus on the very big list of challenges that are in your hands and are your responsibility and let us get on with the things we are elected to do without constant interference from London".

Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies MS said he believed Ms Truss has the "stoicism required" to lead the UK through the months ahead.

He said: "Throughout her political career and this contest, we have seen someone with the tenacity, ideas, and stoicism required to lead the Conservatives into the next election and the country through a difficult period.

“There is a lot of work to be getting on with, especially in tackling the cost of living crisis, and I look forward to seeing Liz’s ideas put into action to alleviate the struggle millions are facing.

“It is now time to unite behind our new leader, and further build on our record of delivering for Wales and the wider United Kingdom.”

Liz Truss won 57% of the votes with 81,326, while Rishi Sunak secured 43% with 60,399. Credit: PA

Other Welsh politicians have echoed the sentiment of immediate action being needed to help those struggling with soaring bills.

In a joint statement, Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price MS and the party’s Westminster Leader Liz Saville Roberts MP said: "The new Prime Minister’s refusal to commit to concrete action on energy bills for weeks has made permanent damage to the UK government’s credibility ahead of a catastrophic crisis.

"Her cruel fantasy economics will secure her fate as the UK’s last prime minister.

“Let’s now skip the tedious pomp and ceremony – the first action of the new PM must be to slash energy bills by returning the energy price cap to pre-April levels and extend it to small businesses and charities. It is unacceptable that people are still in the dark about how they’ll pay their bills in a matter of weeks."

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS predicted "more chaos" under Liz Truss' leadership but said the new prime minister must help lower energy bills. The Lib Dem leader wants to see Ms Truss scrap the energy price rise in October.