Theresa May: a brief encounter with the new PM

PM Theresa May in Downing Street
Image caption 'I want to listen to the devolved administrations' - Theresa May.

If it's Monday, it must be Birmingham. Greetings from the Conservative conference.

The prime minister has changed, the chancellor has changed, but some things stay the same. The media were banned from the Welsh Conservative reception last night, just in case Theresa May went off message.

The new prime minister is famous for giving little away in interviews. And she didn't disappoint during our pre-conference three and a half minutes in Downing Street.

Back in July, the prime minister told the Welsh Government it would be "fully engaged and involved" in Brexit preparations.

I tried to find out whether they were just warm words, lip service. Would the Welsh Government have a veto?

This was her reply: "I was very pleased that one of the early visits, the very early visits that I made as prime minister back in July was to Cardiff and I sat down with the first minister and talked to the Secretary of State Alun Cairns and talked to them about how we will involve the Welsh Government in the discussions that we have.

"Of course, it will be the UK that is negotiating with the European Union in terms of the terms for Brexit. I want to make a real success of it but in doing our preparations I want to listen to the devolved administrations, to hear the particular issues in different parts of the United Kingdom so they are fully engaged and will continue to be fully engaged."

So if Carwyn Jones thought he was going to get a seat at the Brexit table, he can think again. (A source close to him has now explained that when he demanded a seat at the table he didn't mean a real table).


Challenged over the future of EU-funded projects in Wales, she said the UK government would protect money from Brussels earmarked for farmers until 2020 but her government needed to discuss with them what happened after then.

"We need to look after Brexit at the opportunities that we can see around the world and we need to look at how we can ensure that we are providing support where it's necessary. We've already been clear for example in terms of agriculture that we will continue with the financial support, the certain financial support the farmers are getting, for the current period until 2020 but we need to talk to them about what would be coming thereafter.

"It gives us an opportunity. It gives us the control, that's one of the key issues. I think a lot of people when they voted to leave the European Union, it was about not having control over their lives and as a British government we will be the ones who will be able to make decisions about how we ensure that the economy is working for everyone across the country and society is working for everyone across the country."

Politically, Mrs May signalled that for the party one of the "key messages" would be to highlight the Labour-run Welsh Government's record on the NHS and education.

She said: "I'm pleased that when I visited Cardiff shortly after I became prime minister I was also able to talk to Andrew RT Davies and I'll be talking to him about how we can take this message across Wales as Welsh Conservatives that we're going to be a government that works for everyone and I think one of the key messages is showing what has happened in Wales in terms of the Labour administration and where we see a falling back in terms of the NHS, in education.

"What's important is that as Conservatives we believe in ensuring that government works for everyone, not just the privileged few."

And my time was up, but not before the prime minister had shoe-horned the conference slogan into almost every answer.

Having been told she wasn't going to give a "running commentary", I was just one "Brexit means Brexit" away from a full house at Theresa May bingo.