Plaid urges Welsh voters to stop a ‘huge Labour majority’

Plaid urge Welsh voters to stop a ‘huge Labour majority’

Just nowBy David Deans, Political reporter, BBC Wales NewsBBCRhun ap Iorwerth is a member of the Senedd and has been leader of Plaid Cymru since last year

The next prime minister of the United Kingdom will be Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of Plaid Cymru has said.

In a Panorama interview with Nick Robinson to be broadcast later, Rhun ap Iorwerth predicted that Labour will win the election regardless of how Wales votes.

He made a pitch for Welsh voters to back the pro-independence party to prevent Labour from having a “huge majority” that would allow them to act with “impunity”.

It comes after Conservative Grant Shapps warned Labour could win a “super majority”.

Mr ap Iorwerth also claimed that “tax is a good thing” when asked how Plaid Cymru would handle the economy.

“I want to have that honest debate. I want us to recognise first of all that tax is a good thing. We need taxes to be brought in, in order to pay for public services,” the former BBC journalist said.

In the interview, Mr ap Iorwerth said he would like Wales to be able to set “visa numbers to get more people into work” in health and social care.

He said people’s anxieties on migration were being exploited, and said they should not be blamed for cuts to public services.

“Keir Starmer is going to be prime minister in four weeks time,” Mr ap Iorwerth said.

“I think the evidence points in that direction.

“He will become prime minister regardless of how Wales votes. That’s a key factor for people to consider in Wales.

“Yes, there will be change, but what kind of change would you like it to be?

“Would you like a huge Labour majority, that allows them to act with impunity and allows them to continue what they are doing now which is ignore Wales completely?

“Or would you actually like to ensure that there’s plurality of thought and ideas and energy in the Houses of Parliament?”

Plaid Cymru had four MPs at the last election.

Following the boundary re-organisation to 32 seats it could be difficult for the party to repeat that performance.

Mr ap Iorwerth has previously said the election will be difficult for the party.

He said the UK needs “taxes to be brought in, in order to pay for public services”.

Mr ap Iorwerth added Plaid had a “number of proposals for bringing in more tax” and called for an “honest debate” on the issue.

The leader said his party’s ideas included “making sure that those oil and gas companies pay more of a windfall tax, that the corporates pay more, that those who have huge amounts of wealth are targeted through a wealth tax through a fair taxation system”.

The party wants Wales to be an independent state.

Plaid has abandoned a previous promise to want a referendum on independence by 2026.

Mr ap Iorwerth said his job was to “get people interested, intrigued” about what independence could mean.

“If we are to remove those shackles of child poverty, the economic stagnation that we’ve suffered in Wales, we have to take the levers of change into our own hands,” he said.

But he said the country was “not at that point quite yet”.

“We’re within a UK system, we make a case for fair funding for Wales so we can make the right decisions on public servicers and growing the economy and so on that can lead us on a positive trajectory,” the Plaid leader added.

But he said Wales “cannot fulfil our potential as a country” until it is independent.

Asked if there should be a trading border with England, he said: “Do I want that kind of barrier? Absolutely not.”

Plaid Cymru was in a co-operation agreement with Labour until recently, when Mr ap Iorwerth ended the deal early, in part because of the row over the first minister’s leadership campaign donations.

He said when Vaughan Gething became first minister, he “showed a change of direction, change in attitude towards the kind of radical things that we were trying to bring in through that co-operation agreement”.

Mr ap Iorwerth added: “When there was a scandal on top of that – too many distractions, it was time to go our separate ways.”

He reiterated the “right thing to do would be for the first minister to stand down”.

Mr ap Iorwerth rejected suggestions that Plaid Cymru is a party for Welsh speakers.

“We’re about all of Wales. We speak people’s language on health, education and the economy, and that’s the key thing,” he said.

The BBC is interviewing all the major party leaders in the run-up to the election in The Panorama Interviews with Nick Robinson. You can watch the interview with Rhun ap Iorwerth at 19:00 on BBC One Wales or BBC iPlayer.

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