Sat. Jul 2nd, 2022

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Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts. Picture by UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor.

A Plaid Cymru MP has accused the UK Government of simply “sticking an Union Jack” on things rather than getting to grips with the economic problems faced by comparatively poorer parts of the UK outside London.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Liz Saville-Roberts accuses ministers of keeping nations and regions outside south-east England “beyond the pale of economic privilege”.

Criticizing the UK Government’s economic approach to austerity, to leveling up, to transport, Ms Saville Roberts said that their approach is to “stick a Union Jack on it and sing a song of praise to past glories” adding that “nostalgia does not an economy make ”.

She criticized the Government’s approach to rail infrastructure funding, telling the Commons: “Rather than correct Wales’s under-funding from HS2 of over £ 5 billion, Wales gets instead, wait for it, Great British Railways.

“Instead, rather than working with Transport for Wales, our own publicly-owned transport body, it seems that Westminster’s solution to historic under-funding is to override our solution while not correcting the underlying problems that need fixing.”

She later added: “It seems that where there is a problem, the UK Government’s answer is to cobble together a UK-branded institution, a wallpapering over the self-perpetuating vortex effect of research funding, public investment and targeted tax relief that keeps the south-east of England within the pale, and the rest of England’s regions, Northern Ireland, and the nations of Scotland and Wales to remain as always beyond the pale of economic privilege ”

‘Choices’

The Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP also criticizes the Conservatives for what she said was breaking their manifesto promises to ensure that “Wales will not lose any powers or funding as a result of our exit from the EU.” She pointed out that the Welsh Government has calculated that post-Brexit funding arrangements for Wales fall short by £ 772 million of structural funds alone for the period 2021 to 2025.

Conservative decisions from austerity to a hard Brexit are “ideological choices” which “have combined to aggravate the cost-of-living crisis”, according to Ms Saville Roberts.

“From the banking crisis to today, the Conservative Party have sought out every opportunity to impose austerity, to bring about a hard Brexit of their own making, which together have combined to aggravate the cost-of-living crisis,” she said.

“These are ideological choices which will go down in history as Tory creations. Out of ideas other than to centralize what they do not have and blame what they do not know, the Conservatives sit on their hands as the economy fails to work for households and businesses across the UK.

“Firstly, the Leveling Up and Regeneration Bill is does nothing to correct past mistakes or deliver for the future. The Welsh Government has stated that this Government’s post-Brexit funding arrangements for Wales fall short by £ 772 million of structural funds alone for the period 2021 to 2025.

This is not only an “assault on Welsh devolution” – Labor’s Minister for Economy words not mine – but a broken promise. More broadly, sources including Bloomberg illustrate a failure to maintain current standards, let alone deliver any improvement let alone maintain current standards, across most of the UK and especially across Wales.

“This is not what was promised on page 15 of the Welsh Conservative 2019 manifesto – ‘that no part of the UK loses out from the withdrawal of EU funding’ – and certainly not what was promised on page 29 – that ‘Wales will not lose any powers or funding as a result of our exit from the EU. ‘”


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