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May lauds 'very constructive' talks with Welsh First Minister

Published 18/07/2016

Theresa May says she has had "very constructive" talks with Wales' First Minister during her first visit to the principality since becoming Prime Minister.

Mrs May, who succeeded David Cameron as PM last Wednesday, said it was vital to meet the Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones early into her premiership.

She was greeted by the First Minister on the Senedd steps on Monday morning before heading into his office to discuss post-Brexit Britain and the uncertainty surrounding Tata's steelworks in Port Talbot.

Mrs May said: "The Union is very important to me and I'm pleased to visit Wales so early in my premiership.

"I've had a very constructive meeting with the First Minister and we've been talking about a number of issues - including the United Kingdom leaving the EU.

"What I want to see is the best possible deal for the whole of the United Kingdom and I want the Welsh Government to be involved in the discussions - that's why I am here.

"We also discussed Tata and the UK and the Welsh Government have put a strong package together. We want to continue to see steel making here - it's in the Welsh interest and also the UK national interest."

Prior to Mrs May's visit, First Minister Mr Jones admitted he admitted he knew "very little" about the new Tory leader - but hoped she would be able to deliver an improved devolution settlement.

The former barrister has also called on her to deal with the aftermath of the EU Referendum as "a matter of urgency" - especially given the potential knock on effects to the economy and investment in Wales.

Welsh Secretary and Conservative MP Alun Cairns, who sat in on the bilateral talks, described the meeting as a positive one.

He said: "This is the first time for the Prime Minister and Carwyn Jones to properly meet.

"We share a lot of common ground - we are all comprehensive school children and we laughed and smiled about that.

"It was a way of getting to know each other, but also putting markers down what are the key priorities are - the steel industry and how we exit the European Union."

Plaid Cymru, the official opposition in the Welsh Assembly, said it was good for the new PM to visit Wales so early in her premiership.

However, party leader Leanne Wood said: "We have seen Scotland securing a much better deal than Wales from Westminster thanks to the strength of the Scottish Government. It's vital the the Welsh Government now commands the respect of the new Prime Minister in the same way - something it has failed to do in recent years, leaving us with a weak settlement.

"In the short-term, we also need Wales to get the same powers as the Scottish Parliament currently has. In the event of Scotland becoming an independent country within the EU, we in Wales should also be allowed to decide our own future and explore our own constitutional options as well."

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