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Welsh Affairs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:49 pm on 27th February 2020.

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Photo of Christina Rees Christina Rees Shadow Secretary of State for Wales 1:49 pm, 27th February 2020

The hon. Member makes some very good points. It has been a concern of mine for a long time that the Welsh Government have not been involved in the negotiations. They have to be involved; this is the future of Wales that we are talking about. I am really disappointed that they have not been involved to the extent that they should have been.

Now I come to the good bit. The House will know how passionate I am about sport. Wales is a sporting nation. When Wales wins the people of Wales are very happy. When we lose it is the end of the world. I went to the Wales versus Italy match, which was a great result, as the House knows—I don’t think I want to talk about the other matches, so I will move swiftly on.

My constituency of Neath has a proud sporting history. The Welsh Rugby Union was created in the Castle Hotel in Neath. The best player in the world, Gareth Edwards, was born and bred in Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen. Dan Biggar’s family was born and bred in the Dulais valley, where I live, as was Dennis Gethin, who recently stood down as chair of the WRU. Of course, Neath RFC are also called the All Blacks—a great tribute.

In a former life I was a squash player and played for Wales over 100 times. It was a great honour to pull on the red jersey of Wales. I became national coach for Squash Wales, and one of my roles was to develop squash for all ages and all standards throughout Wales. We have a superb junior development structure, which has produced some great players. I am very proud to say that on St David’s Day we will have two senior players ranked in the top 10 in the world, and they have both come through the junior structure: Tesni Evans, based in Prestatyn, is two times British champion and bronze medallist at the last Commonwealth games; and Joel Makin from Aberdare, a member of the Welsh men’s team who came third in the last world championships. Wales is again showing that we are punching above our weight.