Glamorgan Gem Column | Chris Elmore MP
“Over 7,000 Words and Not a Single Mention of Wales”
I’ll be honest. On a human level, I felt ever so slightly sorry for Theresa May last week. Struggling through her conference speech, she had to deal with being handed a P45 by an intruder, losing her voice, and her slogan literally falling apart behind her as she spoke.
My sympathy can only go so far, though, when considering what – for me – was a bigger take-home message from the Prime Minister’s speech. At almost an hour and a quarter in length, taking in over 7,000 words, she forgot to mention one key thing: Wales. Not a single mention. Not so much as an acknowledgement of the issues communities up and down our country are facing challenges which urgently need addressing.
Locally, we only have to look back a fortnight to find a big issue which requires the UK government’s attention. Jaguar Land Rover’s decision to prematurely terminate its contract with Ford, Bridgend, is deeply disappointing. Myself and Huw Irranca-Davies AM have called upon the Prime Minister to intervene in this situation to ensure the plant – and the communities which rely upon it for employment – have a sustainable future. If, as we suspect a “sweetheart deal” has been made by the UK Government to relocate the production of Jaguar Land Rover’s engines to a plant in Wolverhampton, this illustrates a complete contempt for Welsh workers. I’m pleased to see the Welsh Government and trade unions coming together to support the workers at the plant at this difficult time but a long-term solution requires UK Government-led intervention. The window of opportunity is short at Theresa May must act now.
Alongside this, after the Tories’ decision to scrap rail electrification west of Cardiff, I would have welcomed confirmation from Theresa May that the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon would get the go-ahead. One additional sentence in her speech could have cemented this vital source of additional employment, a partial fix for our energy security concerns and could have kick-started the much-needed infrastructure investment in our region.
The Prime Minister had an unlucky time behind the Tory conference podium but it doesn’t detract from the fact that the Welsh economy is crying out for long-term investment from the UK Government. When we have a Prime Minister who refuses to even talk about Wales, it becomes all too clear that her priorities lie in clinging to power rather than standing up for the Welsh people.