Belfast Telegraph

Government urged to leave door open to new investment in Wales

A former Welsh secretary has urged Damian Green to keep an "open mind" on ideas for further investment in Wales.

Stephen Crabb suggested the First Secretary of State consider recommendations by Welsh MPs, as he welcomed his statement on the DUP deal.

He backed Mr Green's "personal commitment to ensuring that the imbalances and inequalities that exist in all parts of the United Kingdom are effectively tackled by this Government" and asked for details on how the UK Prosperity Fund would be used to "raise economic output in the poorest parts" of the country.

Mr Crabb added: "Can I encourage him to keep an open mind on some of the ideas that maybe Welsh colleagues of his might have for further investment."

Mr Green said the UK Prosperity Fund would be introduced after Brexit has been completed.

He said: "It is precisely to help disadvantaged communities across the whole of the United Kingdom, some of them will indeed be in England, it is meant to replace the money that's gone through European institutions to some of our deprived communities.

"I know for instance communities in Cornwall have benefited from that, but absolutely there will be communities in Wales, as there will be in Scotland and Northern Ireland and other parts of England like the North East, that may well benefit from that and I'm always open to creative ideas from any part of the UK about how best to spend that sort of money."

Labour former frontbencher Paul Flynn accused the Government of making the UK "more divided than ever" as he called on MPs representing Wales and Scotland to "put our countries first".

Mr Flynn (Newport West) said: "The Government have just lost an election, they have made themselves and the country more unstable and weaker than they were before, in order to again correct problems within the Tory party, they are using this crude bribe.

"Isn't the answer today is that those MPs who represent Wales and Scotland have got to put our countries first and the result of this is that the Government is making the United Kingdom more divided than ever?"

Mr Green defended the Government's election result, and said: "The idea that the Labour party won the election is a fantasy which I think is dying out even in the wilder shores of Momentum."

Liz Saville Roberts (Dwyfor Meirionnydd) accused the Government of treating the Welsh people like "third class citizens".

She said: "While the Prime Minister is busy bribing the DUP to stitch up the seams of this threadbare administration, she continues to neglect the people of Wales and treat us like third class citizens in this so-called family of equals."

She said the Government's "disregard" for the Barnett formula suggested they agreed with her party's belief that the formula is "not fit for purpose".

"If this Government can hand out £1 billion to Northern Ireland in times of such austerity then I would ask on behalf of the people of Wales, where is the £1.7 billion which is now so evidently our right?"

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