Wales politics

Welsh Tories pledge end to 'devolve and forget'

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Media captionConservative manifesto: Theresa May's Welsh farmers pledge

The Conservatives have pledged in their Welsh general election manifesto an end to "devolve and forget" in Wales.

"We want the UK Government to be a force for good across the whole country," the document says.

Theresa May launched the Tories' Welsh manifesto on Monday in a speech overshadowed by a U-turn on the funding of social care in England.

The prime minister told voters they must choose whether she or Jeremy Corbyn negotiates the UK's EU exit.

Mrs May used the speech in Gresford, near Wrexham, to announce that the Conservatives would cap the amount elderly people have to pay for social care.

However, in Wales the issue is under the control of Cardiff's Welsh Government and the assembly.

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies was not present at the event.

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Media captionHunting protester arrested at Theresa May manifesto launch

Mrs May's speech came as a new Welsh YouGov poll on Monday suggested support for Labour in Wales has risen to 44%, up nine points from the last poll two weeks ago.

The ITV Wales/Cardiff University poll also suggests that the Conservatives are down seven points to 34%. Plaid Cymru is down two points to 9%, the Liberal Democrats are down one point to 6%, and UKIP is up one point to 5%.

Pledges in the Welsh Conservative manifesto include:

  • boost North Wales economy with a growth deal
  • scrap Severn bridges tolls for all traffic
  • new properity fund to replace EU aid post-Brexit
  • more powers to the Welsh Government post-Brexit
  • modernise rail infrastructure with new trains and stations
  • more powers for Police and Crime Commissioners

The Tory manifesto said: "The United Kingdom Government has in the past tended to 'devolve and forget'. This Conservative government will put that right.

"We want the UK Government to be a force for good across the whole country.

"So we will be an active government, in every part of the UK. We will work closely with the Welsh Government for the benefit of all our people - but that will not be the limit of our actions in Wales."

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Media captionTheresa May says a shared prosperity fund will remove disparities across the UK

The planned prosperity fund would be aimed at reducing inequalities within and between the UK nations, Mrs May told party activists in Gresford.

When asked by BBC Wales whether it would fully replace the cash amounts provided by EU aid, Mrs May did not answer the question directly.

But she said: "What this new fund is going to do is ensure that it focuses funding effectively on reducing and removing disparities that exist within and between the four nations of the United Kingdom."

The Conservatives are under pressure to commit to the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project and to confirm the main railway line in south Wales will be electrified as far west as Swansea - projects which were promised for delivery by Welsh Labour during its own manifesto launch, also on Monday.

'Falling behind'

On Brexit, Mrs May said: "The UK's seat at the negotiating table will be filled by me or Jeremy Corbyn. The deal we seek will be negotiated by me or Jeremy Corbyn."

She said a vote for any other party - Labour, the Liberal Democrats or Plaid Cymru - "is a vote to send Jeremy Corbyn into the negotiating chamber on our behalf".

Listing off places in Wales where the Tories are hoping to make gains, she said: "To all the decent men, women and families you meet on the streets of places like Wrexham, Bridgend, Cardiff and Newport - and countless towns and villages across Wales and across the country - I'm backing you."

Image caption Theresa May said people across Wales are disenchanted with politicians in Cardiff Bay

The prime minister said that during Labour's time in charge in Wales "the performance of Wales' vital public services has fallen further and further behind", claiming the Welsh NHS is "failing" and Welsh schools are falling "further and further behind".

She said "the Labour party has taken people in Wales for granted for decades - just as it has in other communities across Britain".

Meanwhile, a 25-year-old man protesting about the Tory proposal on a hunting ban was arrested outside the event for breach of the peace, but was later released without charge.

Supt Nick Evans said: "Our policing operation today was proportionate and necessary.

"We have a responsibility to allow peaceful protest and to maintain public order to ensure public safety and uphold the law."

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