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Friday, January 30, 2015

And now the Welsh Tories squabble in public

When you have a divided group it does not always pay to table a motion to the Welsh Assembly on the issue that divides you. However, that is precisely what the Welsh Conservatives did last week when the initiated a debate on the M4 extension around Newport.  The results were predictable.

The Western Mail reports that the differences between Tory AMs over the M4 Relief Road led to a public spat on social media, with one accusing another of sending spoof tweets.

The paper says that the Welsh Tories claim their position on the motorway is clear after all its members, bar two that couldn’t take part, backed a motion calling for a review of the project that includes a much feted alternative known as the Blue Route.

However, the very next day two Tory AMs reacted to two tweets sent by William Graham backing the Welsh Government’s preferred Black Route, with Antoinette Sandbach suggesting Mr Graham’s tweets ran contrary to the Tory motion voted on Wednesday. The Tory transport spokesman Byron Davies, jumped in by suggesting that Mr Graham’s entire account was a “spoof”:

During Wednesday’s Welsh Conservative debate on the M4 Mr Davies called for clarity over how the Black Route has been decided upon as the preferred route.

In an earlier press conference he said: “We would like to see the Welsh Government go back to the drawing board on it and consider the Blue Route,” adding later: “Does it have to be a motorway?”

But on Wednesday Mr Graham tweeted: “I am confident that when the public inquiry is held the Black Route will be chosen.”

He added: “It has always been Conservative policy that a motorway solution is required for the M4 around Newport.”

Mr Davies told in reply on Thursday: “Could this be a spoof account? @williamgrahamam I know so well, voted in favour of the Welsh Conservative motion yesterday.”

Mr Graham replied: “No conflict between motion and Black Route. Confident Black Route will be chosen at public enquiry.”

“Ah – confirmed, definitely a spoof account,” said Mr Davies.

Mr Graham later confirmed his tweets were genuine.

He said: “He’s trying to make out that the motion we voted for yesterday was against the Black Route. It’s not. It calls for inclusion of the Blue Route within the examination. I have no problem with including the Blue Route. I don’t think it will stand up.”

At about the same time North Wales AM Antionette Sandbach, also a Conservative, said: “Pity @williamgrahamam not willing to put his vote where his principles allegedly are. I was taught actions speak louder than words.

“What price principles? Public inquiry excludes Blue Route, whole point of the motion to get that position reviewed,” she said, adding Mr Graham’s Twitter name to the tweet.

You could not make it up.
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