Rishi Sunak to visit Anglesey as part of two day 'levelling up' tour

Credit: PA

Rishi Sunak will visit north Wales on Thursday for a "levelling up tour" of the region.

The prime minister will meet engineers on Ynys Môn who are rolling out faster internet as part of a UK government pledge to bring broadband to hard-to-reach areas.

The increase in wifi coverage across Wales over the past year has been amongst the fastest in the UK, according to the Westminster government.

Nearly 70% of Welsh premises have a gigabit-capable connection - broadband which, for example, would be capable of downloading a high-definition film in less than a minute.

The UK Government plans to create a freeport on Anglesey. Credit: PA Images

Around 80% of the UK is now covered by speedy broadband, with the aim of 85% coverage by 2025, according to the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

Levelling up - trying to address regional inequality - was a key part of the UK Conservative manifesto at the last election, in 2019, under former prime minister Boris Johnson.

Ahead of arriving on Anglesey, Mr Sunak said: “Levelling up is about providing people with better opportunities to work, travel and feel proud of where they live.

“Upgrading one million premises with high-speed gigabit broadband is part of our long-term plan to deliver a brighter future by connecting people, businesses and regions across the entire United Kingdom."

He added: “We’re breathing new life into communities across North Wales through greater connectivity, a brand new freeport, more cash for high streets and a £1 billion investment into North Wales rail.”

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The electrification of the North Wales main line is being funded with £1 billion, with a separate £20 million from the levelling up fund going towards regenerating town centres and developing areas in Denbighshire.

Mr Sunak visited the new Anglesey Freeport - a designated area where imported goods are not taxed - last year. He said the project would attract more than £1 billion in investment and create thousands of jobs.

However, the UK Government's levelling up policy was challenged by two leading think tanks last autumn.

The Institute for Government said the UK government was not set up to deliver on its promises, while the Resolution Foundation said there was a lack of "seriousness" about tackling the scale of regional inequality.

Labour’s shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens said: “Rishi Sunak will arrive in Anglesey to find that 14 years of Conservative government has delivered one of the worst coverage levels for gigabit internet, and speeds almost half the UK average.

“Wales continues to be an afterthought for the Conservatives. Only Labour will govern in the interest of the whole United Kingdom.”

Mr Sunak criticised the Welsh Government's controversial farm subsidy scheme during Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday.

It is an attempt to make farming more sustainable but would, under current plans, force farmers to give up production on 20% of their land.

He said the Welsh Government plan would “decimate farming communities."

The Welsh Government has defended its proposals with a spokesperson saying: "The Sustainable Farming Scheme has been jointly developed with farmers". They added: "Working in partnership with the farming sector is key".

"The scheme is currently out for consultation and we would like to thank the thousands of farmers who have already responded and attended the 10 Welsh Government Roadshow sessions across Wales.

"No final decision will be taken on the scheme until after the consultation has ended and we encourage everyone to reply with their views by 7 March.”

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