Wales politics

UKIP's Nathan Gill should not 'double job', says Hamilton

Neil Hamilton and Nathan Gill
Image caption Neil Hamilton leads UKIP in the assembly although Nathan Gill remains leader of the party in Wales

The leader of the UKIP Welsh Assembly group says Nathan Gill should not "double job" as both MEP and AM if he cannot fully commit to Cardiff Bay.

A row has broken out after Mr Gill attacked Neil Hamilton for offering support on the £1.1bn M4 relief road.

Mr Gill denies it was the group's view, but Mr Hamilton said his colleague was late for the meeting where it was agreed.

The MEP said he is fully involved in all of his jobs.

Meanwhile UKIP has handed out spokespeople roles to all of its AMs - with the exception of Mr Gill.

Mr Hamilton became leader of the UKIP group in May despite Mr Gill being and remaining Wales party leader.

"UKIP members expect all UKIP AMs to be fully committed to their role in the Senedd and to be team players," said Mr Hamilton.

"If Nathan cannot accept this, he should fulfil his commitment to the UKIP NEC (national executive committee) and Nigel Farage last January that he would not 'double-job'."

The AM for Mid and West Wales added: "Nathan Gill is a part-time AM at the moment because he has not resigned from his job as an MEP in Brussels and Strasbourg.

"He arrived late at our group meeting yesterday, when it was nearly over, so he missed our discussion about the M4.

"He has at no time expressed any misgivings to me."

Image caption The Welsh government has backed a six-lane motorway to run south of Newport to help relieve congestion near the Brynglas Tunnels

Mr Hamilton told the assembly on Wednesday that UKIP was prepared to back the preferred relief road option of First Minister Carwyn Jones, a £1.1bn new motorway known as the black route.

He said: "We think the black route is better than no route, and so if this is necessary to unblock the logjam we are prepared to play our part in it."

Mr Hamilton said his statement in the assembly had been endorsed by everyone present at the group meeting, where the issue was "fully discussed" and had the backing of UKIP South Wales East AM David Rowlands, who will speak for the party on transport.

UKIP's election manifesto said it did not agree with the black route plan "due to its excessive £1bn plus cost" - backing instead the "blue route" scheme to upgrade Newport roads.

On Thursday, Mr Gill told BBC Wales: "Giving Carwyn false hope that he's going to get the black route through is not the right thing to do."

He added: "We back the blue route. That is our manifesto position."

Asked if Mr Hamilton's comments represented a group position, Mr Gill said: "No."

He has previously said he would stand down from the European role but is yet to do so, with suggestions he would wait until after the EU poll on 23 June.

Mr Gill, who is the only AM who is an MEP, later said in response to Mr Hamilton: "What evidence does he have that I am a part time AM?

"I am fully involved in all of my jobs and I am doing everything I am supposed to be doing."

He said that the other two AMs in the UKIP European election list, who could take the job after he stands down, are now AMs themselves.

"We always said all along that we wouldn't do anything until after the referendum," he said.

A spokesman for Mr Gill said: "Nathan has attended every major function that has gone on in the assembly since he was elected.

"His comments on the M4 route were simply fulfilling his manifesto promise and his commitment to the A55 in North Wales."

Image caption Mark Reckless, Nathan Gill and Neil Hamilton are among the first seven UKIP members elected to the Welsh Assembly

Mark Reckless, AM for South Wales East, said the matter had been discussed at a UKIP group meeting.

"We continue to support the blue route - we prefer that to the black route," Mr Reckless said.

But he added: "As Neil said yesterday, it's crucial that we get the M4 relief road and we would be happy for negotiations with government in respect of the black route.

"If they were willing to abolish the Severn Bridge tolls, I feel that is a deal that might be attractive."

Meanwhile UKIP has announced the following AMs as its spokespeople:

  • Caroline Jones - Health
  • Mark Reckless - Education and finance
  • Gareth Bennett - Sport and local government
  • Michelle Brown - Communities, childcare and housing
  • David Rowlands - Infrastructure and transport
  • Group leader Mr Hamilton will serve as spokesman on the economy, farming, the environment, rural affairs and finance.

Asked why Mr Gill was left off the list of UKIP assembly spokespeople, Mr Hamilton said: "When he has finally made his decision about which job he prefers and if he remains an AM, I will happily look at appointing him as a spokesman.

"Providing of course, he is prepared to abide by collective responsibility."

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