Drakeford: Some Conservative ‘voices’ want all decisions to be made in Whitehall

First Minister Mark Drakeford said he wanted more ‘regular and reliable’ meetings with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford

Wales’ First Minister has said some Conservative Government “voices” do not like devolution and want all decisions to be made in Whitehall.

Mark Drakeford told LBC on Saturday that he wanted more “regular and reliable” contact with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, not “sporadic” meetings then weeks of silence.

He said that other than a conversation on Monday and Cobra meeting on Tuesday, the last time he spoke to Mr Johnson was in May.

Mr Drakeford added: “My frustration has been that those conversations have not been regular enough and not reliable enough.

“What I don’t want are one-off, sporadic, last-minute meetings, called in a crisis and then weeks of silence.”

When asked why there had only been “sporadic” contact, Mr Drakeford said: “Well, taking a generous view, the Prime Minister is incredibly busy, he has a big range of responsibilities and we are all reacting to very quickly changing circumstances.

“I think there’s another explanation, which is that there are some voices in the Conservative Government who have found out that devolution exists after 20 years, found they don’t much like it, think it will be much better if we returned 20 years and all the decisions were made in Whitehall, and would rather not be spending their time talking to us very much.”

His comments come as Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelli are about to come under new coronavirus restrictions.

Cardiff will become the first capital city in Great Britain to be placed under a local lockdown from 6pm on Sunday while restrictions will also come into force in Swansea at the same time.

The town of Llanelli will also be placed under lockdown a day earlier at 6pm on Saturday.

It means 1.5 million people in Wales, just under half the population, will be under local lockdowns from the start of next week due to “rapidly” rising coronavirus cases.

Measures are already in place in Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport, and Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The restrictions for Cardiff and Swansea, Wales’ two biggest cities, and Llanelli in Carmarthenshire mean people will not be able to enter or leave the areas without a reasonable excuse.

Extended household rules will be suspended, meaning people will also not be able to meet indoors with anyone they do not live with, while people must also work at home if possible.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said the situation was “real and very serious”, with coronavirus transmission driven by households mixing indoors and in pubs.

He said that there had also been some imported coronavirus transmission, mainly from European holidays.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Gething said the Welsh Government will also be looking at the data from Vale of Glamorgan and Neath Port Talbot to see if new restrictions were needed.

He added: “We are also going to take the opportunity to look at the data from Neath Port Talbot, which is the neighbouring borough with Swansea, and Vale of Glamorgan, which neighbours Cardiff, to see if we do need to act there as well.

“The data we get today and tomorrow will be very important.”

Mr Gething warned that if there was no improvement the Welsh Government will need to consider further restrictions.

He added: “We are doing this because we have to try to avoid much more significant harm and if we can’t see a turnaround in the collective discipline that saw us out of lockdown through the summer then we are going to have to consider taking further measures.”

On Friday, there were a further 320 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Wales, bringing the total in the country to 22,215.

Public Health Wales said three further deaths had been reported, with the total since the beginning of the pandemic increasing to 1,609.

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