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Welsh Conservatives

David Cameron delivered the following speech at the Welsh Conservative Party Conference in Llangollen yesterday.

Good afternoon. Prynhawn da.

It’s great to be back in Llangollen with all of you.

And I’m proud to be with our Welsh Tory team again.

Alun Cairns, Andrew RT Davies, our Chairman Jonathan Evans…and our brilliant Welsh Secretary, Stephen Crabb.

What a team they are.

And what a year we’ve had.

Twelve months ago, we met in Cardiff, just as the election campaign was about to begin.

The polls showed a dead heat; the pundits predicted deadlock.

Removal men were wondering whether they’d really have to try to fit an eight foot tombstone through the door of Number 10.

It was a nervy time.

But we stuck to our plan – and we stuck together all the way to the finish line.

We won so many great victories that night.

Here in Wales, not just holding the seats we’d won in 2010 – but increasing our winning margins the length and breadth of the country.

And there was more.

Brecon and Radnorshire – Conservative for the first time in almost twenty years.

A local GP, campaigning passionately on the NHS, winning for us in the Vale of Clwyd.

And yes, that stunning victory in Gower…Tory for the first time in nearly a hundred years.

I actually came to Gower just a few days after May 7th – to visit Gower Brewery.

Well, you’re allowed to celebrate a little bit.

I was so proud that day.

And throughout my ten years as leader of this party, I’ve always had total faith in what we could achieve together in Wales.

Topping the poll in the 2009 European elections.

Winning those vital seats in Wales at the 2010 General Election.

Becoming the main opposition in the Senedd a year later.

And then last year, the best Welsh Tory election result in over thirty years.

Yes, us, the Conservatives – now with over a quarter of Welsh MPs.

Our success has been based on hard campaigning, of course…but also on real achievements over these past six years.

Taxes cut for 1.2 million people.

Vital upgrades to the M4.

Huge investment in rail.

A new nuclear power station at Wylfa.

Meeting our devolution commitments in full, just as we promised.

There is so much more to look forward to.

And my argument today is this: Wales has huge potential – and if we make the right decisions, that potential will be fulfilled.

THE WELSH POWERHOUSE

Whether it’s enterprise, infrastructure, tourism, culture, sport….on so many fronts, this nation is motoring ahead.

There’s so much potential for Wales.

You hear the term ‘powerhouse’ quite a lot at the moment.

And let me tell you: I think Wales has the potential to be a powerhouse, too.

Look at Welsh enterprise.

The fastest growth per head in any region of the UK outside London.

Over 20,000 new businesses started since 2010.

More than 100 new inward investment projects in 2014 alone.

Over half the world’s commercial aircraft now fly using wings made by Airbus in North Wales.

IQE manufactures the tiny cells that support half of the world’s mobile phones.

Toyota in Deeside makes an amazing 950 engines a day.

And Wales has a growing and well-earned international reputation for innovation, manufacturing and research.

Look, too, at Welsh infrastructure.

We’re delivering the most ambitious programme of railway investment in Wales for more than a century.

The electrification of the Great Western mainline and Crossrail will allow you to travel from Cardiff to Canary Wharf in two hours.

There’ll be a new direct link between Cardiff and Heathrow.

The North Wales Mainline will be modernised.

And yes, we’ll see electrification all the way to Swansea, too.

And there’s more: 1,000 new jobs at the new Wrexham prison.

We’re working with Hitachi and Horizon to build that nuclear power plant at Wylfa.

And we’ve provided £69 million for superfast broadband…and 500,000 Welsh homes and businesses can now get access speeds three times faster than the UK average.

There’s Welsh tourism, too.

Rough Guides now puts Wales in their top 10 countries to visit in the world.

Wales has some quite unfair advantages, I have to say.

The sandy beaches of Gower… the wild and rocky mountains of Snowdonia…the beauty and drama of Anglesey’s coastline…the gentle waterfalls of the Vale of Neath.

Is it any wonder Rough Guides called this place “one of the finest natural playgrounds in the world”?

And then there’s the powerhouse that is Welsh culture.

Wales is blessed with brilliant performing arts, comedy and music.

We’re securing the future of S4C – a channel created by a Conservative government.

And in the Wales Millennium Centre, there is a national home for the arts that would be fit to grace any of the world’s great capitals.

There are also those unique Welsh events.

There’s nothing quite like the Eisteddfod in any other part of our United Kingdom.

And as someone who’s visited the Royal Welsh Show both as Leader of the Opposition and as Prime Minister…I know there is no bigger or better celebration of agriculture or rural life anywhere in our country.

Of course I should mention Welsh sport, too.

Now I need to be a bit careful here.

There’s a potential Grand Slam decider tomorrow.

And because you’ve developed quite a habit of spoiling the English party at Twickenham…I don’t want to say anything that will stir Welsh passions too much.

But Welsh sport is thriving.

Proud hosts of the Ryder Cup, the Rugby World Cup and Ashes cricket.

So many brilliant Welsh world champions and gold medallists – many of whom we’ll see in Rio this summer.

And also this summer, we’re looking forward to seeing the Welsh football team compete in finals of a major international tournament for the first time since 1958.

POWERHOUSE PARLIAMENT

There’s so much potential for Wales.

But making Wales a powerhouse in every sense must also mean creating a Powerhouse Parliament in Cardiff Bay.

And with our Wales Bill, we will honour the St David’s Day agreement in full.

It means a new model of devolution, with more clarity over Welsh Assembly responsibilities.

It means vital new powers in areas like energy, transport, local government and Assembly elections.

And it means real fairness.

For years, Welsh politicians had been asking for a funding floor that would protect the level of funding for Wales…and I am proud that it was a Conservative government that delivered it.

Whatever our disagreements with Welsh Labour – and there are many…people know, with us, that we will work to do what is best for Wales.

We’ll work constructively with whatever administration is in charge in Cardiff…and we’ll bang the drum for Wales at every opportunity.

That’s why I was so proud to host that NATO Summit at Celtic Manor.

It’s why we worked with the Welsh government to bring the UK Investment Summit to Wales in 2014.

And just last month, we worked together in Cardiff and Westminster to help deliver that fantastic announcement by Aston Martin…one that will bring so many new jobs for the people of St Athan and the rest of Glamorgan.

Wales is going to make James Bond’s next car – all we need now is a Welsh James Bond to drive it.

WELSH ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS

There’s so much potential for Wales – so much to look forward to.

But I come before you today with a simple warning.

This future is not guaranteed.

Those jobs that took years to create can disappear quickly.

The investment that took so long to secure can dry up like a change in the weather.

The confidence that we feel today could start to drain away tomorrow.

And there are two big choices facing the Welsh people that will determine what happens next.

The first is who should control the Welsh Assembly.

It’s a straight fight this May between the Conservatives, and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

New leadership with us, or carrying on with a tired Labour Party.

They’ve been in power for seventeen years in Wales already.

Do we want to let them waste even more of your money?

Do we want them to do even more damage to the Welsh NHS?

Do you know what Carwyn Jones said about Jeremy Corbyn the other day?

He called him “inspirational”.

I suppose he is right.

His failure to back anti-terror measures should inspire deep concern.

His plans to raise taxes and borrow forever should inspire fear.

His plans to send our nuclear submarines to sail around the world’s oceans without nuclear weapons should inspire ridicule.

Do we really want to have 22 uninterrupted years of this lot running the Welsh Assembly?

Carwyn Jones did actually say something I agree with.

He said, in this election, the Tories will say “we’ve had long enough, it’s time for a change.”

First Minister, thank you.

You have had long enough; it is time for a change – and on May 5th Wales can get that change.

There’s so much potential for Wales.

But it could remain unfulfilled.

Because let’s be clear: Wales is being held back by Labour.

As we look to devolve those vital economic powers that will help take Wales forward… Labour is now teaming up with the nationalists to wreck it – all because they think they might need a coalition with Plaid in May.

As we extend the Right to Buy in England…Labour is betraying aspiring homeowners in Wales by abolishing it completely.

As the most successful countries on our planet stretch schoolchildren and teachers with more rigour and testing…Labour is scrapping league tables and standardised tests, and Welsh children are falling behind.

And as cancer and A&E waiting time targets are missed year after year….Labour plans to keep starving the NHS of the resources it so badly needs.

We need a new administration – one that will get to work on those M4 upgrades…deliver the devolution that Cardiff Bay needs…put an end to the painful neglect of our NHS…help the steelworkers in Port Talbot…bring rigour back into the classroom…complete that Cardiff City Deal….and provide the economic security that Wales needs to fulfil its potential.

We can be that team for Wales.

We’ve got some great candidates standing in May.

Jane Cowan in Cardiff North.

Andrew Atkinson in Wrexham,

Simon Baines in Clwyd South.

Lyndon Jones in Gower.

Gary Price in Brecon and Radnorshire.

And last but not least, George Jabbour.

George is a businessman who was born in Syria, and is now standing for our Party in Bridgend.

So I say: get down there, get behind George – and give the First Minister a real run for his money.

EUROPEAN REFERENDUM

The second big choice is Europe – and that crucial vote on June 23rd.

This is the most important political decision we’ll make in our lifetime.

And it comes down to this: do we stay in a reformed EU, or do we take a leap in the dark?

I can describe very clearly to you what ‘in’ looks like – now, and into the future.

It’s exactly the kind of future I’ve outlined today – open, dynamic, confident, successful.

We’ll be in the free trade single market – with the easy access to 500 million consumers that it brings.

We’ll see real opportunities for growth in key sectors like digital, energy and services…as we complete the single market and agree important trade deals with America, Japan and India.

We’ll keep the 100,000 jobs that are linked to Welsh access to that single market.

And we’ll have a special status that keeps us out of the parts of Europe – the Euro, open borders, ever closer union – that just don’t work for Britain.

Put simply, we will be stronger, safer and better-off.

But on the other side of this argument, there is only risk and uncertainty.

Those who want to leave can’t tell us what the aftermath of an exit from the EU would look like.

The most important question is: would we still be in the single market?

If the answer is yes, we’d have to pay into the EU and we’d have to accept the free movement of people.

What’s the point of that?

If the answer is no, let us be very clear: any alternative would mean new impediments, restrictions and costs for Welsh businesses.

And what would that mean?

Let’s just take one example – agriculture.

Welsh farmers and food producers rely on the single market.

It gives them access to 500 million consumers, to whom they can sell their goods on an open, unrestricted basis.

No tariffs, no barriers, no bogus health and safety rules designed to keep our products out.

If we left this single market and relied on WTO rules, as some suggest, the extra costs of exporting British beef would be £240 million a year.

An extra £90 million would be added to the cost of British lamb exports.

And just think what that would mean for Wales, where almost 50,000 jobs rely on agriculture…and where the EU accounts for over 90 per cent of Welsh agriculture exports.

98 per cent of dairy products go to the EU – but outside the single market they could attract a new 36 per cent tariff.

92 per cent of beef exports go to the EU – and tariffs there could be between 58 and 70 per cent.

Welsh lamb, such an important export and a source of national pride, would be hit badly.

97% of lamb exports go to the EU, but lamb could be slapped with a 40 per cent tariff.

Now of course relying on WTO rules is just one option that people advocate.

We could go for a Canadian-style free trade deal instead.

Now let’s note that for a moment… that seven years on from the start of talks on a Canadian Free Trade deal, that deal is still not in place.

Think about the seven years of uncertainty for business, not knowing what the arrangement would be for trading with Europe.

Seven years of uncertainty for our farmers, not knowing whether those markets would be open.

Seven years of uncertainty for businesses wanting to invest in Britain to provide jobs and investment and livelihoods not knowing what our relationship would be with Europe.

Those seven years of uncertainty – they cannot be justified. They cannot be in our national interest and we should reject that idea out of hand.

But in that scenario, there would also be quotas and restrictions.

A free trade deal would mean limits on how many tonnes of meat we could export, and very high extra costs and restrictions for goods over that limit.

Those asking us to leave seem to think that those countries we would have just left will give us some sort of sweetheart deal.

But why would French farmers not want a slice of the market share of Welsh sheep farmers or beef farmers?

Why wouldn’t the Italians want to give a greater advantage to their cheesemakers?

Why wouldn’t the Spanish use the negotiation to help their pig farmers?

Now, the leavers say we should trade more with the rest of the world.

Of course we should – and we will.

But no-one should be naive about how easy this is.

We have a special relationship with the USA.

But here’s a question for you: how much beef and lamb do you think we export to America?

Answer: None. Nothing. Zero. Zilch.

Here’s the lesson: just because you have friendly relations with other countries, it doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get a good deal.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Welsh agriculture, Welsh farmers and Welsh jobs could suffer enormously if we left the single market…it’s just a fact.

And I do think we’re entitled to a few facts from the other side – from those who want us to leave.

They’re asking us to trust that leaving would somehow be worth the profound economic shock, and the years of uncertainty that would follow.

They say we’d have more control.

How exactly?

Leaving the EU but remaining in the single market doesn’t give us more control…it just stops us from having any say over the rules of trade.

Relying on WTO rules doesn’t give us more control…it just hurts industry, hits jobs and hikes up prices.

Trying for a free trade deal doesn’t give us more control…it just means years of painful negotiations and a poorer deal than we’ve got now.

In the end, those who want to leave are telling you that we can have all of the benefits of EU membership, but none of the trade-offs.

But as everybody knows: if it sounds too good to be true, that’s normally because it is.

And let’s remember: this isn’t some abstract question…these are actually people’s jobs, people’s livelihoods, people’s life chances, people’s families we’re talking about.

I say: don’t put them at risk – don’t take this leap in the dark.

It’s quite simple for me: I love Britain, not Brussels.

My job is to say what I believe is right for the country.

I’ve been Prime Minister for six years.

I’m not standing again.

I’m telling it as I see it.

Nothing more, nothing less.

And my judgement is: we are stronger, safer and better-off inside this reformed organisation…we can choose the best of both worlds…and that’s what I hope the Welsh people will do on June 23rd.

CONCLUSION

So a crucial few months lie ahead.

A decision on May 5th that offers the chance for new leadership in Cardiff Bay.

And a vote on June 23rd that will determine our economic success, and our influence in the world, for generations to come.

There’s so much potential for Wales – but there are also some momentous choices coming around the corner.

Make the right choices – and Wales can go on to become that powerhouse.

Make the wrong ones – and Wales could get left behind…and all of this potential – all of the sacrifices of the last few years – will go to waste.

So let’s get out there and win these big arguments.

We can do it.

Let’s devolve those powers.

Let’s keep our access to that single market.

Let’s back Welsh agriculture.

Let’s build that power station.

Let’s electrify those lines.

Let’s keep those jobs.

Let’s keep that investment.

Let’s keep going.

Let’s build that Welsh powerhouse.

Let’s win for Wales.

Thank you very much.

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