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Thursday, March 03, 2016

How credible is second-guessing the Prime Minister?

It takes a peculiar form of arrogance to go on television and contradict your party leader and Prime Minister over an issue which he controls and you have little influence over, yet Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew R.T. Davies managed it last night.

The BBC reports that Mr. Davies went onto The Wales Report and insisted that Wales will still get economic aid for its poorest areas even if Britain votes to leave the European Union. He gave this assurance despite the fact that David Cameron said he "can't be certain" the UK government would spend the same if we left the EU.

The European Union is providing £1.8bn to Wales between 2014-2020 to help economic growth. If we vote to leave then that money will go back to the UK Treasury, but there is no guarantee that it will then be passed back to Wales in its present form, quantity or at all.

And given the Treasury's record on funding Wales nobody is going to gamble that we will see anythng more than a small fraction of that amount. Certainly, the Prime Minister is not prepared to make that commitment. So where is the Welsh Conservative Leader getting his confidence on this matter from?

Mr Davies said: "I can guarantee that a UK government would make sure that money would be re-distributed around the regions of the UK, otherwise it would be failing in its remit to deliver help and support to the nation it is elected to govern.

"Frankly we cannot continue with operation fear, driving people in to the ballot box because you are scaring them into voting one way."

In contrast, the Prime Minister, asked on BBC Wales Today if he could make up the shortfall in EU aid for places like Wales after an exit, said: "I think you can't be certain about that.

"We know, between 2014 and 2020, in the European budget is £1.8bn for Wales, vital money for economic development and important projects."

He said: "In those circumstances, of course, the United Kingdom government would always want to do everything it could for all the different parts of the United Kingdom, but you can't guarantee these things, because we might be in quite difficult economic circumstances."

Experience says we should not be surprised that David Cameron is wary about commiting the UK Government giving Wales the sort of support it has now in the event of a BREXIT. The chances are we would have to cut elsewhere in our budget to make-up the shortfall.

Andrew R.T. Davies' bravado on this issue has no credibility and the assurances he is giving are worthless.
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