Wales politics

Welsh Tories focus on EU reform at manifesto launch

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Media captionThe Welsh Conservatives focused on reform of the EU at the launch of their manifesto

The Welsh Conservatives focused on reform of the EU at the launch of their manifesto for the European elections in Cardiff on Monday.

The party claims it would be the only one able to deliver "reform, renegotiation, and a referendum".

Tory candidate Kay Swinburne also said Labour rather than UKIP posed the biggest threat to the party in Wales in May's European elections.

Recent opinion polls place UKIP ahead of the Conservatives in Wales.

Ms Swinburne said the Conservatives were stressing reform, rather than withdrawal from the EU.

The party's only Conservative MEP for Wales said the message on the doorsteps so far in Wales was that while people have issues about the way the EU is run, they cannot see a future outside it.

Ms Swinburne, the party's lead candidate in May's election, told BBC Radio Wales' Good Morning Wales programme: "We've been delivering as Conservative MEPs in Brussels over the last five years and working with a Conservative PM in Westminster we've already made some significant differences.

"So, our campaign this time is about reform, renegotiating our relationship with the EU and then delivering for the people of Wales and the people of the UK a referendum by the end of 2017."

She claimed only the Conservatives would give people a say on the EU with an in out referendum, while the other parties either would not or could not.

Asked how she would vote in such a referendum, the former investment banker said it depended on the outcome of negotiations to reform the EU.

She said: "I hope we are very successful and therefore I would support us staying in the EU."

In the 2009 European election the Conservatives topped the poll in Wales - the first time Labour had failed to come first in a Wales-wide election since 1918.

A recent YouGov opinion poll for Cardiff and Edinburgh universities suggest Ms Swinburne will retain her seat, but will be pushed into third place behind Labour and UKIP.

Labour has attacked Ms Swinburne for living at her family home in Ledbury in Herefordshire and using her English address on the official statement of poll.

Questioned about it, she said: "I do live in Wales...what I've failed to do is persuade my husband yet to give up his Herefordshire home and to move with me permanently to Wales.

"I have two homes. I am very fortunate I am able to do that and given that I spend 44 weeks of the year in Brussels and I'm away from first thing on a Monday morning to last thing on a Thursday evening."

Kay Swinburne also defended the Conservatives' record in Brussels in cutting red-tape for hairdressers and caravan owners, and voting to reduce the EU's budget for the first time.

A list of all candidates and parties standing in the European Parliament elections on Thursday 22, May, is available here.

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