UK

Plaid Cymru pledges fairer funding at General Election manifesto launch

But Rhun ap Iorwerth’s speech did not mention Welsh independence, a founding principle of his party.

Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth launches his party’s General Election manifesto in Marble Hall, at The Temple of Peace in Cardiff, Wales
Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth launches his party’s General Election manifesto in Marble Hall, at The Temple of Peace in Cardiff, Wales (Ben Birchall/PA)

Plaid Cymru have launched their General Election manifesto, with calls for the UK to rejoin the Single Market but no mention of Welsh independence.

Rhun ap Iorwerth, the leader of the party, pledged to put Wales first, with a fight for fairer funding for the country at the launch event in Cardiff on Thursday.

The party is calling for windfall taxes on oil and gas companies, money “owed to Wales” in rail funding and for closer ties with the EU- which the country left following Brexit.

However, his speech did not mention Welsh independence, a founding principle of his party, and the concept does not appear until page 42 of the manifesto.

Mr ap Iorwerth, the leader of Plaid Cymru, said people feel “uninspired” by what the Conservatives and Labour have to offer, while his party will offer a “positive vision” for Wales.

He said: “As an internationalist party, unlike Labour and the Tories we in Plaid Cymru are not afraid to call out the disastrous consequences of severing ties with the world’s largest trading bloc.

“We have been clear, consistent and unequivocal in recent years that rejoining the Single Market and Customs Union are vital in order to mitigate the impact of Brexit on Welsh business and reduce overheads and administrative costs.”

He said the “common thread” which runs through the party’s programme is fairness.

“Fair funding for Wales,” he said. “Plaid Cymru is the only party advocating for the abolition of the Barnett Formula which has seen Wales lose out to the tune of billions over the years.

“It’s not a begging bowl, it’s just what’s right, enabling investment in public services and the economy.”

Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth launches his party’s General Election manifesto in Marble Hall, at The Temple of Peace in Cardiff, Wales
Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth launches his party’s General Election manifesto in Marble Hall, at The Temple of Peace in Cardiff, Wales (Ben Birchall/PA)

He criticised the UK Treasury’s decision to class the HS2 high-speed rail project as an “England and Wales” scheme despite the route being entirely in England – meaning Wales had lost out on billions in funding.

Because it was classed as England and Wales the project did not trigger the mechanism which would normally see extra funding given to the devolved nation.

He added: “Let me be clear, this appeal for fair funding isn’t driven by ideology but by principle.

“Remember, there’s nothing inevitable about our poverty and nothing intrinsic to our people which means we cannot create a thriving economy and world-class public services, given the tools we need.

“So, to the next UK Government we say this – show you’re serious about Wales and resolve the long-standing fair funding issues.”

Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr ap Iorwerth said this was not an independence election.

He said: “There’s no changing the fact that Plaid Cymru and I firmly believe that we will not ultimately reach our potential as a nation, we will not remove the shackles of child poverty, of economic stagnation, until we have all those tools in our hands.

“It’s my job to get people interested and curious about what those possibilities are.

“Truth of the matter is, this isn’t an independence election, this is a UK General Election where Plaid Cymru is the one party that will stand up for fairness for Wales in funding so that we can provide fairness on the NHS, and fairness for communities and families in Wales.

“That is our priority and making Wales a priority in those terms is something that you will not get from any other party.”

The party’s manifesto does not set a date on when independence should be achieved, which is a shift from previous policy documents.

Under the party’s former leader Adam Price, Plaid had called for a referendum by 2026.

Instead, the party will prepare a “green paper” on the path to independence, with a national commission established.

Liz Saville Roberts, a Plaid Cymru candidate, used her speech at the campaign to attack Labour’s “shamelessness” at parachuting candidates into Welsh safe seats.

She said: “Let’s show (Keir Starmer) once and for all that there’s no such thing as a ‘safe’ seat. Let’s stop him from taking Wales for granted.”