Wales politics

Brexit means Wales should borrow more, Plaid Cymru says

Leanne Wood
Image caption Leanne Wood says 'every penny' spent on infrastructure will create jobs

Wales should be allowed to borrow more money to prevent the economy suffering a Brexit "slowdown", Plaid Cymru has said.

The party claimed a legal limit of £500m to be used only for an M4 relief road was too low and too restrictive.

Plaid leader Leanne Wood said schools, hospitals and transport links needed urgent investment.

The UK government said it was committed to supporting the Welsh economy and funding would rise by 2020-21.

The Welsh Government said it was asking the UK government to set the borrowing limit higher.

From April 2018, ministers in Cardiff Bay will have the power to borrow up to £500m of capital money to pay for infrastructure projects.

Under an agreement with the UK government, that money will be available earlier if it is spent on the planned M4 relief road around Newport.

Ms Wood - who opposes Labour's vision for the relief road - said there should be no restrictions on how the money is spent.

Image caption Borrowing permission has already been given to fund an relief road for the M4 near Newport

She argued the threat of an economic slow down after Brexit meant the powers should be "updated".

"The borrowing powers delivered to us in 2014 are out of date before they've even been used," she said.

"We're talking about powers for Wales agreed in principle almost four years ago.

"Events are moving ahead quickly and we need both the scale and scope of our borrowing powers to now be expanded and updated."

A Treasury spokesman said: "UK government capital funding for the Welsh Government will rise by over 17% in real terms by 2020-21 and we are also investing directly in Wales' infrastructure, including a £500m contribution to the Cardiff City Deal."

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "We are pressing the case with the UK government now for a higher borrowing limit as part of a new fiscal framework for Wales.

"We have long argued that borrowing powers are vital for our infrastructure investment and the fact that we secured early access to borrowing to take forward an M4 enhancement scheme before devolved taxes come into effect in April 2018 is hugely important and significant."

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said: "It's rather ironic that just at the moment Plaid Cymru are using Brexit to justify their latest calls for Welsh independence, they are simultaneously asking for the ability to borrow more money from the UK government."

More on this story