Wales politics

Tories can fill Welsh centre ground, Andrew RT Davies says

Andrew RT Davies

The Welsh Conservatives are "ideally placed" to fill the centre ground of Welsh politics, assembly party leader Andrew RT Davies has said.

In a piece for the Sunday Times at the start of Conservative party conference, Mr Davies accused Labour and Plaid Cymru of a "left-ward lurch".

He claimed Plaid Cymru was a "nationalist comfort blanket" for First Minister Carwyn Jones.

Plaid called the attack "bluster", while Labour said it was "tired".

Mr Jones has "struggled to put forward a clear vision for Wales", the Welsh Conservative leader wrote, accusing him of having "flip-flopped" on freedom of movement and becoming "increasingly reliant" on Plaid Cymru.

"It's abundantly clear that Nicola Sturgeon is no longer alone in posing a danger to the future of the union," he said.

Alleging there was a disconnect between Mr Jones and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood's "post-Brexit vision for Wales versus the will of the electorate", he accused the two parties of a "violent leftward lurch".

He said this was "compounded this week by the first minister's endorsement of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership and by Plaid's repeated calls for independence".

Mr Davies said it had "left a vacancy in the centre ground of Welsh politics which Welsh Conservatives are ideally placed to fill".

'Fumbling'

His comments are understood to refer to an exchange between Mr Davies and Mr Jones in the Senedd last Tuesday, when the Welsh Tory leader asked the first minister if the best interests of the UK would be served by having Jeremy Corbyn as the next prime minister. Mr Jones said: "Yes".

A spokesman for Carwyn Jones said: "Under the leadership of Andrew RT Davies the Tories in Wales have moved steadily but assuredly towards total irrelevance. Now the third party in Wales, the Tories have no policies to showcase, no victories to celebrate - just tired old attack lines which are utterly meaningless outside the Cardiff Bay bubble.

"The Welsh Tories' decision to ditch their own grammar school policy just days before [Prime Minister] Theresa May's first conference shows they are a party in deep confusion and in search of genuine leadership."

Steffan Lewis, Plaid Cymru's external affairs spokesman, described the attack as "characteristic fumbling bluster".

"The only coalition that exists on Brexit is the coalition of the Westminster establishment, both Labour and Conservative, who seem determined to lead our nation towards a dangerous isolationism," he said.

Meanwhile David Jones, minister for exiting the EU and Clwyd West Conservative MP, said he was "determined to make a success of Brexit for Wales, and for all parts of the United Kingdom".

"The public gave their verdict at the referendum. It is a national mandate, which we will deliver in the national interest," he added.

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