Wales politics

Labour leadership: Owen Smith 'committed to devolution'

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Media captionOwen Smith says he wants First Minister Carwyn Jones to play a bigger role in Labour at Westminster

Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith has denied he is anti-devolution.

The former shadow Welsh secretary said he wanted First Minister Carwyn Jones to play a bigger role in Labour at Westminster.

Mr Smith said he would have Mr Jones sit in a shadow cabinet with metropolitan English leaders and the Scottish Labour leader.

Meanwhile he blamed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for the party's fall in support at the assembly election.

Labour fell short of a majority at the May election, losing one seat.

Mr Corbyn launched his campaign to hold on to the Labour leadership on Thursday, urging MPs to get behind the party.

Mr Smith said the perception that he thought there should be no further powers devolved to Cardiff Bay was an impression Plaid Cymru was "keen to build up as they were trying to drive a wedge between me and Carwyn Jones".

He said Mr Jones knew "that isn't true".

"I'm a committed devolutionist," he said, saying he thinks devolution should be extended across England.

He said he was also "someone who believes we've got to think about what it is we want to hold in common as well as what we can devolve".

Mr Smith said the Welsh Labour leader and first minister "should be much more associated with big decisions being taken in Westminster".

He explained he would have Mr Jones "alongside other leaders from metropolitan bits of England and the leader in Scotland, sitting regularly in effectively a regional shadow, national shadow cabinet to make big decisions, to think about defence, economic areas where there isn't responsibility held in Wales but where there is clear interest in Wales, or in Scotland, in those decisions."

Image caption Jeremy Corbyn launching his leadership campaign

Pontypridd MP Mr Smith also said that voters in Labour heartlands had lost faith and hope in Labour because of Mr Corbyn's leadership and failure to speak powerfully for the party at Westminster.

"We've lost credibility, we've lost respect in many of our communities, communities that have been traditional Labour-voting areas.

"For us to almost lose Blaenau Gwent, for us to lose the Rhondda, these were hammer blows to the Labour Party and that's something Jeremy Corbyn needed to respond to, but he's been poor at taking Labour's case to the Tories in Westminster and he's not been successful in going beyond slogans."

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