Wales politics

Brexit: Tory AM says post-EU aid 'must not row back devolution'

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Image caption Wales will have received more than £5bn in so-called structural funds by 2020

The replacement of EU funds should not lead to a rowing back of devolution and the powers of the assembly, Welsh Conservative AM Nick Ramsay has said.

EU funds in Wales are currently administered by the Welsh Government.

But it is not clear if ministers in Cardiff would oversee the replacement for EU economic aid post-Brexit.

In a Senedd debate Mr Ramsay said the Shared Prosperity Fund "has to be seen as compatible with devolution" and that more detail is needed.

As one of the poorer parts of the European Union, Wales will have received more than £5bn in so-called structural funds by 2020.

Under Theresa May the Conservative UK government proposed a Shared Prosperity Fund to replace the cash regions like Wales get from the European Union.

But while Tory leader she refused to confirm whether the Welsh Government will control the cash, while a Labour MP has said there is a "maddening" lack of clarity about the idea.

Image caption Nick Ramsay said the rowing back of the powers of the assembly "was not what the people of Wales voted for"

On Tuesday Labour and Plaid AMs passed a motion rejecting "the idea of a centralised UK-directed fund or one which seeks to bypass the devolved administrations".

Conservative AMs did not agree with that part of the motion, and Mr Ramsay said to "simply write off the fund" is "unwise and unrealistic".

"It is at least an attempt to try and replace European funding with a mechanism which is fair," the Monmouth AM said.

But he added: "Currently there are unanswered questions which we would accept, I think the UK government would accept, need to be ironed out."

'Compatible with devolution'

"In principle it is a good idea but it has to be seen as compatible with devolution," he said.

"The replacement of EU funds should not lead to a rowing back of devolution and of the powers of this assembly. That was not what we anticipated and that was not what the people of Wales voted for."

He added: "I totally agree with the Leave campaign's comments before the referendum that Wales should be a penny worse off.

"After all this is done and dusted lets hope that turns out to be the case and it's not just words."

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