The UK General Election

1. Questions to the First Minister – in the Senedd at on 11 June 2024.

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Photo of Vikki Howells Vikki Howells Labour

(Translated)

2. What assessment has the Welsh Government made of the impact that the different outcomes of the UK general election will have on Wales? OQ61260

Photo of Vaughan Gething Vaughan Gething Labour 1:35, 11 June 2024

Thank you for the question. Our assessment is that there are two realistic outcomes for Wales. The first would be more of the same—a continuation of economic mismanagement, attacks on devolution, and crime going unpunished. The second would be a mission-led Government, led by Keir Starmer, working in partnership with the Welsh Government, with a serious plan to change Wales and Britain for the better.

Photo of Vikki Howells Vikki Howells Labour 1:36, 11 June 2024

Thank you, First Minister. Now, the UK Tory Government's shared prosperity fund was, of course, billed as one of their key schemes to replace European Union funding lost after Brexit, and we know how important this funding is to Wales. Of course, we learnt in recent weeks that Rishi Sunak plans to raid the coffers of the shared prosperity fund in order to finance his deeply unpopular plan to bring back national service. And if this isn't bad enough, I was very concerned to read a briefing from the Industrial Communities Alliance, which states that 2,000 directly employed posts are set to be lost in Wales when the latest round of SPF funding comes to an end. And when the indirect impacts of this are accounted for, then we could be looking at up to 10,000 jobs lost in Wales. First Minister, what assessment can you make of the impact that such losses would have, and what would be your message to the people of Wales about how such a calamitous conclusion can be avoided?

Photo of Vaughan Gething Vaughan Gething Labour 1:37, 11 June 2024

Thank you for the question again. The clarity and the choice that faces all of us, and the impact on this place and the communities that we serve—. It is a matter of fact not opinion that Wales has been short-changed by the shared prosperity fund. The manifesto promises that were made in two Conservative UK manifestos that there would be a penny-for-penny, pound-for-pound replacement of former EU funds have not been kept. And this Conservative group have been cheerleaders for Wales being short-changed. More than £1 billion should have come to Wales for Wales to decide. And more than that, of course, there is a pledge to restore the powers and money that comes from the leader of the UK Labour Party. I look forward to seeing that taken forward, not just in the election, but what it will then mean for what we are able to do, to reinvest in high streets, to reinvest in the skills programmes we've previously funded. That is a vision well worth fighting for, compared to the reality of thousands more job losses, public expenditure being squeezed, and unfunded tax pledges, yet again, being made by the Conservative Party, and all in addition to the continuing pledge for a further assault on devolution. The comments of the current Secretary of State for Wales yesterday were shameful—to say that the Tories want to introduce a Bill to take away all powers over speed limits in Wales, because they do not run this place. They have not been chosen by the people of Wales at the ballot box to come here. I'm proud to have fought for devolution to be created, proud to have made the case, in my younger life, proud to be here now as the First Minister. Choices made here for devolved areas of responsibility will continue to be made here, with a UK Labour Government. We all know that that is under threat if the Tories are ever allowed near the levers of power yet again across the UK.

Photo of Joel James Joel James Conservative 1:39, 11 June 2024

As you will know, First Minister, every UK Government has been defeated due to its economic record, which has left us with higher taxes, higher national debt and higher unemployment. As we have seen recently, a Keir Starmer Government—sorry, Llywydd, a Sir Keir Starmer Government; whatever else he is, the man is still a knight—will mean higher taxes for ordinary men and women throughout Wales. [Interruption.]

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru

I can't hear the Member, sorry. I'm going to ask some people to be a bit more quiet than they are. Joel James.

Photo of Joel James Joel James Conservative

Thank you, Llywydd. With this in mind, Minister, what have you made of this impact on Wales and the Welsh economy? Thank you.

Photo of Vaughan Gething Vaughan Gething Labour

Well, the truth is that, at the end of this Parliament, living standards have fallen for the first time on record across the UK. It is not a coincidence that the UK Conservative Government has been in charge through that time after the previous decade. As Carolyn Thomas reminded us, more than 14 years of austerity have had an impact on the economy as well as public services. And in this last term, the economy across the UK has flatlined, and other economies who've had the same international challenges have not had the same results. We are paying the price for Conservative economic mismanagement. Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak—the villains of the piece for the position that we now face and it's why it's so important to turn a page.

And I will just deal with the point about taxes. It is manifestly dishonest to claim that taxes are planned to rise in the way the Conservatives have been going about it. Even the senior civil servant in the Treasury has debunked the outrageous and dishonest claims made by the Conservative Party. [Interruption.]

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru 1:40, 11 June 2024

I now can't hear the First Minister. Please, can we be a bit more quiet?

Photo of Vaughan Gething Vaughan Gething Labour 1:41, 11 June 2024

And if you want to stand behind the manifestly dishonest claims that have been made, people will see them. They will vote at the ballot box on 4 July. And I look forward to a new start for Wales with two Labour Governments working together for Wales and Britain, and I believe people here in Wales will vote for that.