world : Plaid urge Welsh voters to stop a 'huge Labour majority'

world : Plaid urge Welsh voters to stop a 'huge Labour majority'
world : Plaid urge Welsh voters to stop a 'huge Labour majority'

Wednesday 12 June 2024 10:53 PM

Nafeza 2 world - The next prime minister of the United Kingdom will be Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of Plaid Cymru has said.

In a Panorama interview with Nick Robinson, Rhun ap Iorwerth predicted that Labour will win the election regardless of how Wales votes.

He asked Welsh voters to back the pro-independence party to prevent Labour from having a "huge majority" that would allow them to act with "impunity".

It comes after Conservative Grant Shapps warned Labour could win a "supermajority".

Mr ap Iorwerth also claimed that “tax is a good thing” when asked how Plaid Cymru would handle the economy.

Plaid Cymru had won four MPs at the last election. Following the boundary re-organisation to 32 seats it could be difficult for the party to repeat that performance.

Mr ap Iorwerth has previously said the election will be difficult for the party. The former BBC Wales political journalist has been in charge of Plaid Cymru since last year.

In the interview, Mr ap Iorwerth said he would like Wales to be able to set "visa numbers to get more people into work" in health and social care.

The party leader said people's anxieties on migration were being exploited, and said they should not be blamed for cuts to public services.

"Keir Starmer is going to be prime minister in four weeks time," Mr ap Iorwerth said.

"I think the evidence points in that direction.

"He will become prime minister regardless of how Wales votes. That's a key factor for people to consider in Wales."

"Would you like a huge Labour majority, that allows them to act with impunity and allows them to continue what they are doing now which is ignore Wales completely?"

He accused some senior Welsh Labour Westminister figures "who act as if they have forgotten they are representing Wales".

Mr ap Iorwerth criticised the shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens, who said that Labour could not commit to a share of funding from the HS2 rail project.

The scheme is designated as being England and Wales, despite not reaching Wales, meaning Wales does not get extra money as a result from the project.

The Plaid Cymru leader said the party had a "number of proposals for bringing in more tax" and called for an "honest debate" on the issue.

"I want us to recognise first of all that tax is a good thing," Mr ap Iorwerth told the programme.

He said the UK needs "taxes to be brought in" to "pay for public services".

The Member of the Senedd for Ynys Môn said his party's ideas included "making sure that those oil and gas companies pay more of a windfall tax", and that "those who have huge amounts of wealth are targeted through a wealth tax".

But he said he would not "add to the burden" on low and medium income earners.

In March, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt extended a 35% tax on those companies – the Energy Profit Levy – until 2029.

It was introduced by Mr Sunak when he was chancellor after Russia's invasion of Ukraine caused demand and prices to rise.

Plaid Cymru wants Wales to be an independent state, but has abandoned a previous pledge for a referendum on independence by 2026.

Mr ap Iorwerth said his job was to "get people interested, intrigued" about what independence could mean.

"If we are to remove those shackles of child poverty, the economic stagnation that we've suffered in Wales, we have to take the levers of change into our own hands," he said.

But he said the country was "not at that point quite yet".

"We're within a UK system, we make a case for fair funding for Wales so we can make the right decisions on public servicers and growing the economy and so on that can lead us on a positive trajectory," the Plaid leader added.

But he said Wales "cannot fulfil our potential as a country" until it is independent.

Asked if there should be a trading border with England, he said: "Do I want that kind of barrier? Absolutely not."

Plaid Cymru was in a co-operation agreement with the Welsh Labour government until last month.

It had been working with ministers on a group of policies, including expanding free school meals and childcare.

Mr ap Iorwerth had ended the deal early in part because of the row over the first minister's leadership campaign donations.

He said when Vaughan Gething became first minister, he "showed a change of direction, change in attitude towards the kind of radical things that we were trying to bring in through that co-operation agreement".

Mr ap Iorwerth added: "When there was a scandal on top of that [there were] too many distractions, it was time to go our separate ways."

He said the "right thing to do would be for the first minister to stand down".

The leader rejected suggestions that Plaid Cymru is a party for Welsh speakers.

"We're about all of Wales. We speak people's language on health, education and the economy, and that's the key thing," he said.

The BBC is interviewing all the major party leaders in the run-up to the election in The Panorama Interviews with Nick Robinson. You can watch the interview with Rhun ap Iorwerth on BBC iPlayer.

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