Plaid Cymru will fight for the £1.7bn we deserve

Liz Saville Roberts writes for the Sunday Times on the Tory-DUP deal and what it means for Wales.

As a result of sheer desperation, in a situation of her own making, the Prime Minister has found a pot of gold at the end of a blue and orange rainbow. On Tuesday, she found a spare £1billion pounds to bribe ten DUP MPs to prop-up her ailing minority Conservative government on key votes.

Unfortunately, she had been looking in all the wrong places when our prison service was paralysed by riots, social housing was sold off to balance the books and ambulances queued outside A&E departments.

Over the last year of her premiership, the Prime Minister has shown contempt for the nations and regions of the United Kingdom. The Tory Government passed a Wales Bill that takes powers away from the people of Wales, blocked amendments to legislation that would have seen crucial EU funding guaranteed, and just a week ago presented a legislative programme without a single Bill for Wales.

A £1billion bribe for 10 DUP MPs, while Wales gets nothing.

The injustice is obvious, but just by scratching the surface you quickly discover the scale of the betrayal. The Barnett Formula is the central mechanism for deciding levels of funding for devolved governments. Funding is calculated based on the population of each nation. When the UK government increases or decreases funding for one nation. the others rightly receive a commensurate uplift, based on this Barnett Formula. So with little more than a few basic calculations, you can work out that an extra £1 billion for Northern Ireland – by a process of simple mathematics – results in an extra £1.7 billion for Wales.

With £1.7billion we could make the vital investments in our public services and infrastructure –roads, railways and digital networks – to get Wales fighting fit for Brexit and beyond. But, not even an extra penny for the people of Wales is on the table.
This is not to say that the Barnett Formula is fit for purpose – basing the funding of a nation on a head-count, rather than on the needs of its people is as illogical as it is immoral. But this is the model the Conservative government defends. Whilst they maintain this position, any febrile attempt to justify a situation where one nation receives £1billon, whilst the others get nothing is farcical. By bypassing Barnett they are showing nothing but contempt for Wales and confirming to the electorate the hollow nature of their principles.

Of course, Northern Ireland, like Wales, is crying out for investment after years of neglect by Westminster governments of every colour. In fact, the funding crisis in Wales is even more acute, we sit at the bottom of the funding table for devolved nations – even Londoners get more per person than Wales. But let’s be clear, the Conservatives aren’t doing this because they want to. They are doing it because they have to.

So at the cost of £100million per DUP MP, what are we left with? A weak and wobbly regressive alliance, cobbled together with a party linked to paramilitaries and opposed to basic rights of women and the LGBT community. All this masterfully orchestrated by a Prime Minister who identified the Tory brand as that of the ‘nasty party’.

If the situation was not so serious, it would be comical.

Labour and the Tories alike have done nothing to make sure that our nation and fundamentally our people receive the money owed to them.

28 Labour MPs from Wales, bolstered by a Labour administration in Cardiff Bay have failed to gain a single concession from the Tory Westminster administration. Whilst the Secretary of State for Wales – our supposed advocate inside the Cabinet – has spent the week explaining away the injustice, rather than making the case for Wales to get its fair share.

Whether they are distracted or just simply don’t care, it is impossible to square the fact that both of the Westminster establishment parties have failed to deliver for Wales.

My Plaid Cymru colleagues and I will not sit back and let this happen. We have dedicated ourselves to fight for Wales and for the people of Wales. A boost to the Welsh finances of £1.7 billion would be potentially transformative for our NHS, for people’s wages and their standard of living. And yet, we are denied it. Without explanation and in contravention to the government’s very own principles.

This is not us asking for more, but simply demanding what we are rightfully owed as citizens in a society that actively seeks to remedy poverty and inequality.

 

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