'UK Government continues to steal power and money from Wales', says Mark Drakeford

4 June 2021, 12:01 | Updated: 4 June 2021, 13:43

By Fiona Jones

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford told LBC that the UK Government "continues to steal power and steal money from Wales", citing a decision made in Whitehall yesterday as an example.

The weekly Covid meetings with Michael Gove and devolved nations have been "well-conducted and respectful", Mr Drakeford told Matt Frei, however "this isn't true of our whole relationship with the UK Government by any means."

Matt asked: "So you don't feel they're imposing their diktats on you as some people do?"

"Not in the coronavirus context, in other contexts the UK Government continues to steal powers and to steal money away from Wales," Mr Drakeford said.

When asked, Mr Drakeford gave an example: "We have had in the whole period of devolution powers in Wales to make decisions about regional economic development inside Wales. We've had money that's come to Wales and we've had decisions that have all been made here in Wales."

He continued: "Yesterday we had a visit from a UK Secretary of State who knows very little about Wales, no responsibilities for Wales at all, and he came to tell us that from now on he will be making those decisions.

"He'll be making them in Whitehall, he'll be using powers that belong here, he'll be using money that should be here, and people in Wales will have no influence over those decisions.

"That really is the reversal of the way that things ought to happen.

The coronavirus context is a better example, but in other places this is a UK Government that continues not to respect the history of devolution and the decisions that people in Wales made in two separate referendums to have those decisions made here on their behalf."

Matt questioned which area of governance the Secretary of State was referencing.

"This is the so-called Shared Prosperity Fund...previously those funds would have been at Scotland, Northern Ireland and Welsh levels and made by ministers elected by people in those countries.

"Now that money has been collected into this so-called Shared Prosperity Fund - there's less money in it than Wales alone would have had under the previous arrangement - and from now on a Secretary of State in Whitehall will make those decisions.

"That really is absolutely unacceptable to us in Wales and it fuels those people that believe Wales will be better off outside the United Kingdom."