Cameron defends 'life and death' criticism of Welsh NHS
- 21 July 2014
- From the section Wales politics
David Cameron is back in Westminster after a flying visit to the Royal Welsh Show.
While in Llanelwedd, the prime minister spoke to my ITV Wales colleague Adrian Masters about his decision to replace David Jones with Stephen Crabb, the continuing rail row between the Welsh and UK governments and those comments about Offa's Dyke being a line between life and death.
So why did he sack David Jones?
"He did a very good job but in every government you need to bring forward fresh talent. I think Stephen Crabb will be an excellent secretary of state. He's been a hard-working minister, he's got very good connections in Wales, he obviously wants to boost the Welsh economy.
"But to be fair, David Jones said to me he would go on supporting the government from the backbenches and I think he did a good job. But let's look at what the government's delivered for Wales. The money for the M4, the electrification of the railway line all the way to Swansea, nuclear power coming back to Anglesey, the new prison built in north Wales, big investments for Wales and that's why the economy's recovering."
How close is a deal on rail electrification?
"We believe the deal is there because the UK government is funding the extension to Swansea. Network Rail in Wales, I believe, has the money to go ahead with electrification of the Valley Lines and of the Valley lines and that's the basis on which the deal was always done."
I'm not sure if this suggests a deal is imminent or not. The Welsh government has appeared to base its public case on an interview Mr Cameron gave on Wales Today, although it may be the case that the PM simply misspoke. UK government sources have suggested Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has been looking at a deal in which the Welsh government would end up footing the bill for the Valley Lines work but it would be financed over a longer period.
Will there be an end to what Labour call the "war on Wales"?
"I've always had a reasonable relationship with Carwyn Jones and I'll continue to make sure that there's a relationship of respect between the Westminster government and the Welsh assembly government but I won't hold back in criticising when I think they've making a mistake.
"The mistake they've made with the health service is they've cut its budget and they haven't reformed its processes to get rid of the bureaucracy. Now in England we put more money in and we did those reforms and so I think it's quite right to say this is not some 'war on Wales', this is simply a legitimate concern that Welsh people are not getting the health services they need because their Labour government, based in Cardiff, isn't doing its job properly.
Wasn't it over-the-top to say Offa's Dyke has become "a line between life and death"?
"Well, for some people that's exactly what it has been. There are too many people on waiting lists in Wales, waiting list targets haven't been met in Wales since 2009 and people are suffering as a result. I think that's a perfectly legitimate criticism."
I suspect there will be some Conservative MPs who agree it is perfectly legitimate to criticise the Welsh government's failure to meet waiting list targets but wish the prime minister would tone down the "line between life and death" rhetoric.