Ms Jewell writes to UK Government Cabinet Secretary to call for an investigation
Plaid Cymru’s Shadow International Relations Minister has written to the UK Cabinet Secretary to call for an investigation into a possible breach of rules governing the use of public resources during an election period.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a £300m fund which would cover an area that includes Brecon and Radnorshire, where a by-election is due to take place on Thursday. He’s visiting Wales today.
Under rules that govern UK elections, known as purdah, government arms should not use public resources in a way that seeks to advance party political interests during a period of election.
Mr Johnson’s announcement of money for the Mid Wales Growth Deal, which covers Brecon and Radnorshire, appears to be a clear-cut example of breaking purdah rules.
This is underlined by the fact that the Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns, specifically refers to this money in an article about the by-election in the Western Mail.
In the letter, Delyth Jewell AM states:
“I suspect that the actions of the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Wales constitutes a breaking of the Ministerial Code and that the civil service may have therefore broken purdah rules by carrying out work in relation to the funding announcement on their behalf.
“I request that an immediate investigation be conducted into whether purdah rules have been breached, how much public resources were spent on this announcement and whether the Cabinet Office ethics and propriety team was consulted beforehand.”
Explaining why she felt that sending the letter was important, Ms Jewell said:
“Boris Johnson has been Prime Minister for less than a week and it appears he may be already falling foul of official rules guiding ministerial behaviour.
“I can think of no clearer breach of purdah rules than a funding announcement for Powys days before the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, a fact which is underlined by Alun Cairns’s Western Mail article today, which makes reference to both.
“Does anyone believe that this announcement, which was made on the same week a by-election is held in a constituency they’re desperate to hold to maintain their tiny majority, was not an attempt at electioneering?
“It’s already obvious that Boris Johnson will be a disaster for Wales as he gears up for a no deal EU exit for which he has no mandate and no real idea about its consequences.
“He is very much mistaken if he thinks he will be given an easy ride, as Plaid Cymru will oppose him at every turn.”