Wales politics

Conservatives in Wales and Westminster united after Downing Street visit

Andrew RT Davies Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said it had been a positive meeting that had looked at the economy, jobs and rail electrification

Senior Welsh Conservatives have played down differences between the party in Wales and in Westminster.

After Tory AMs met David Cameron in Downing Street they said talks focused on the economy and not recent turmoil in the party.

The sacking of four shadow cabinet ministers over devolution gave the meeting's timing an added edge.

Later both the Welsh secretary and the Conservative leader in the assembly gave a rare joint interview.

David Jones said he was in agreement with Andrew RT Davies over the proposed devolution of income tax and that the policy announced in a draft bill at Westminster was agreed party policy.

Mr Davies said it had been a positive meeting that had looked at the economy, jobs and rail electrification

The subject of his recent shadow cabinet reshuffle in the Welsh assembly had not been mentioned, he said.

Before the meeting. there was said to be puzzlement in Downing Street over the sackings and a desire to find out what happened and why.


Last week, Mr Cameron said plans to hand restricted tax powers to Wales are the "starting point" for a debate.

UK ministers want to hold a referendum on allowing the Welsh government to vary income tax rates.

Each income tax band could only be moved at the same time and by the same amount - the so-called "lockstep".

A row over whether to back the lockstep or not led to Mr Davies sacking four members of his shadow cabinet.

Mr Davies has criticised the lockstep while the four colleagues he sacked said they were supporting the policy of the UK coalition government.

Mr Cameron made his comments on the issue while visiting flood-hit areas of Pembrokeshire last week.

He did not comment directly on divisions within his party's assembly group, but said: "What we believe is that we need further devolution here in Wales.

"We want the Welsh assembly to have the power over taxes and we want the Conservative Party to be the low-tax party in Wales campaigning here to make sure we help people with the cost of living by keeping the cost of government down and making sure they keep more of their hard-earned money to spend as the choose.

"That's what we stand for, that's what the Welsh Conservatives stand for and I welcome that.

"First of all we need to get the referendum, we need to have the debate about the referendum and the Conservative Party will be supporting a 'Yes' vote, and the starting point for all that is the settlement as set out in the [UK] government's response to the Silk inquiry."

The Silk Commission was set up by UK ministers to look into devolved powers and said Wales should be responsible for raising some of the money it spends.

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