Theresa May’s ‘hypocritical’ assembly remark dropped from speech

Theresa May Image copyright EPA Image caption Theresa May voted against the assembly in 1997

The prime minister has re-written a speech about Brexit following criticism it was factually inaccurate.

Theresa May had planned to say that both sides had accepted the result of the Welsh assembly referendum in 1997.

But she had voted against the creation of the institution following the devolution referendum.

Labour and Plaid Cymru politicians accused her of hypocrisy – and the line was dropped from the speech.

Instead, she said the result was accepted by parliament.

Mrs May warned of “paralysis in Parliament” if the deal is rejected and said trust in politics would suffer “catastrophic harm” if the UK did not leave the EU.

Members of the press had been told Mrs May, in Stoke-on-Trent, would say: “When the people of Wales voted by a margin of 0.3%, on a turnout of just over 50%, to endorse the creation of the Welsh Assembly, that result was accepted by both sides and the popular legitimacy of that institution has never seriously been questioned.”

But when she gave the speech, she said that the result “was accepted by parliament”.

Mrs May had, in 1997 after the referendum, voted against the legislation that enacted the assembly, together with other Conservatives.

Skip Twitter post by @LaurenMaeve

You’re not naive, no Wales Office spad worth their salt would have let this line through. I am therefore being charitable and presuming they never saw it, and stopping howlers like this is a pretty big reason the Wales Office is still around so No10 should have made use of them.

— Lauren McEvatt (@LaurenMaeve) January 14, 2019

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End of Twitter post by @LaurenMaeve

Tory MP Nigel Evans said during that debate that it would have been better if the percentage majority in favour “had been in double figures”.

“That would have settled the issue once and for all, but it did not and it remains unsettled.”

The Conservative manifesto of 2005 also called for a further referendum on the assembly on expanding its powers, keeping it as it was or abolishing it.

Before the event Professor Roger Scully of Cardiff University said the result was actually won on a margin of 0.6%, rather than 0.3% – although the figure remained in the revised speech.

Image caption Jo Stevens said the briefed remarks exposed ‘yet more utter hypocrisy from the PM’

First Minister Mark Drakeford said Rhodri Morgan had “reacted to the closeness of the result by reaching out to those opposed to the creation of the National Assembly and worked to establish its legitimacy in their eyes”.

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