‘22yrs of failure’: Labour shamed as Tory chief issues Welsh independence warning

Andrew RT Davies delivers speech at Leaders’ Debate

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Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives spoke about his priorities to Wales and the United Kingdom as tens of thousands of Welsh voters are set to go to the polls. In a series of interviews by the Daily Express ahead of the Senedd Cymru or Welsh Parliament elections next week, Mr Davies promised to “turn the page” if elected as Wales’s next First Minister.

 

But Labour have held onto power since the Welsh Parliament was established in 1999 through a mixture of coalitions with the Lib Dems and Welsh Nationalist party Plaid Cymru led by Alun Michael, Rhodri Morgan, Carwyn Jones and Mark Drakeford. 

One of the major issues among Welsh voters is the constitution with support for Welsh independence rising as high as 35 percent last month in a Savanta Com-Res poll.

Another poll conducted this week however put support slightly lower with 28 percent saying they would vote yes, 57 percent said they would vote no and 14 percent were undecided.

Savanta ComRes quizzed 1,002 Welsh voters and also found Tory support growing, with the party now on 27 percent of the Senedd vote.

Speaking to the Daily Express, Mr Davies said the focus should not be on constitutional matters.

The Brexiteer added: “We need to focus on the vaccine rollout and economic recovery rather than constitutional discussions and dealing with an independence referendum.

“We should celebrate Wales’s place in the United Kingdom.

“I’m a proud Welshman, but I do believe the Strength of the Union has come and been shown through the coronavirus pandemic through the vaccination rollout.

“There is so much ambition and opportunity in Wales, it would be the detriment of Wales if we were to go independent.”

Asked whether new powers should be given to the Welsh Parliament which currently has responsibility for areas including health, education and transport, Mr Davies referred to the UK Internal Market Bill and claimed the Senedd has become more stronger because of Brexit.

Mr Davies made clear the Welsh Parliament would be the most powerful than ever when it reconvines for the next term later this month because of the addition of more than 70 additional powers from the EU relating to environmental regulations.

Turning to their election policies, the Welsh Conservatives pledged they would build 100,000 houses over the next decade and create more than 5,000 new teaching positions.

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Currently the second-largest party in the Senedd, the South Wales Central MS also pledged the party would deliver 1,200 more doctors, 3,000 more nurses as well as create 65,000 new jobs if elected.

Mr Davies, also a farmer, also said he would guarantee financial support for Welsh farmers at a level of no less than that previously provided for the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.

Summarizing their policies, Mr Davies added: “We can’t have another five years of Labour, it’s vital we rebuild after the COVID-19 crisis and the economy recovers.”

Mr Davies noted education was one of the biggest failures of the ruling administration to date led by Mark Drakeford, adding: “We know for a fact that Labour have taken their eye off the ball, education has sadly gone backwards here.

Summarizing their policies, Mr Davies added: “We can’t have another five years of Labour, it’s vital we rebuild after the COVID-19 crisis and the economy recovers.”

Mr Davies noted education was one of the biggest failures of the ruling administration to date led by Mark Drakeford, adding: “We know for a fact that Labour have taken their eye off the ball, education has sadly gone backwards here.

“Wales regrettably has a lost generation due to Labour’s mishandling.”

As part of their education manifesto, Mr Davies said the Tories would improve standards by reducing class sizes and giving 16-24 year olds free bus travel and discounted rail travel.

Turning to the Welsh Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Davies claimed Wales had the highest COVID-19 death rate in the UK.

He added: “Labour haven’t kept Wales safe, we should have a roadmap for unlocking in Wales much earlier.”

 

This week, Mr Drakeford announced that Wales will have moved to Alert Level 3 of their unlocking roadmap by May 3 allowing gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools to reopen.

Referring to the ongoing situation in Holyrood with the SNP, he also hinted the Scottish elections were being closely watched by Cardiff.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon pledged a second Scottish independence referendum by 2023 if they were reelected next week, but Mr Davies said the SNP were “devastating” Scotland economically.

Mr Davies added: “When you look at Nicola Sturgeon, she doesn’t want her domestic agenda noticed because they have failed in areas such as education.”

In his message to voters, Welsh Tory leader concluded: “We’re focused solely on having conservation all the way to polling day, our focus is engaging with the people of Wales.

“It’s a huge privilege to be able to lead the Welsh Conservatives that offer hope.

“I have a good relationship with Douglas Ross and Boris Johnson and have been a part of the political cabinet in London.”

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