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Byline: MARTIN SHIPTON Reporter

WELSH Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies has accused Carwyn Jones of posing a danger to the future of the UK by allying himself with the Welsh nationalists of Plaid Cymru.

And, writing in the Sunday Times, he claims it is the Tories who will create a fairer and more equal society.

This afternoon the Conservative Party's annual conference opens in Birmingham, with Theresa May delivering her first speech to delegates as leader and Prime Minister.

In May's National Assembly election, the Tories slipped back to third place, losing their status as the official opposition to Plaid.

Seeking to put that disappointment behind him, Mr Davies makes a bid for fresh support from beyond his party's core support base.

He writes: "The Labour First Minister's leadership here in Wales has sadly been found wanting. Carwyn Jones has struggled to put forward a clear vision for Wales.

"He has flip-flopped over fundamental aspects such as the freedom of movement, seeking at every turn the support of his nationalist comfort blanket, Plaid Cymru - on whom he is becoming increasingly reliant.

"It's abundantly clear that Nicola Sturgeon is no longer alone in posing a danger to the future of the Union.

"Nowhere is the disconnect that exists between Carwyn Jones and Leanne Wood's post-Brexit vision for Wales, versus the will of the electorate, amplified more than by the fact that both of their constituencies voted decisively to leave the EU.

"This violent leftward lurch of the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition - compounded this week by the First Minister's endorsement of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership and by Plaid's repeated calls for independence - has left a vacancy in the centre ground of Welsh politics which Welsh Conservatives are ideally placed to fill."

Mr Davies tries to portray the compact between Labour and Plaid, under which the two parties liaise over policies, as a coalition, even though there are no Plaid ministers and no continuing agreement over how to vote.

The Welsh Conservative leader goes on to argue that the party in Britain has defied predictions by remaining united despite the referendum vote for Brexit.

He states: "Brexit and the greater powers bill [under which the Assembly will be able to vary income tax rates, for example] are significant moments for Wales, providing us with the opportunity to shape policies that fit our priorities.

"A recent Wales Governance Centre poll showed that the Conservative Party in Wales is currently enjoying its highest level of support in six years.

"It is vital we keep building on this success and continue to reach out beyond our traditional voter base if we are serious about getting into government in 2021."

He says his message is clear: that the Tories will build a Wales that works for everyone - a Wales where no one is left behind.

Reflecting on the past six years, he states: "In 2010, we got Britain working again after the economic shambles left by Labour.

"We have now arrived at phase two - getting the country working for everyone. And yet getting to this second phase hasn't been without its challenges. After the tumult of the referendum campaign, there are many who will have hoped to see the Conservative Party weakened.

"Few among even the sharpest political minds expected a Leave vote.

"Many commentators licked their lips at the prospect of unhealable rifts following what they insisted would be the 'inevitable' remain vote - rifts that would threaten the future of Conservatism.

"Since June 23 we have, against the odds, set aside any difference of opinion and are getting on with the job of making Brexit a success.

"We are bound by the knowledge that the strongest way forward is together."

Mr Davies argues that the "naysayers" do not seem to understand that to hold different views on such a game-changing constitutional question, and to be allowed the privilege of campaigning for those views, is about the most democratic thing one can do.

He states: "Politicians are often accused of being 'in it for the wrong reasons'. Power-hungry, narcissists, megalomaniacs - just some of the insults levelled at politicians.

"If for a moment we can look past the insults and the sensationalised splits that were ubiquitous in the media's coverage of the campaign, there is a love for our country which unites us all. We may part ways on how it is run, but each one of us cares deeply about our country.

"Under the leadership of our new Prime Minister Theresa May we've discarded our Leave and Remain badges to work towards a common purpose of ensuring the best possible deal for the UK as it readies itself to throw off the onerous yoke of EU regulations."


Carwyn Jones

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 2, 2016
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