Wales politics

General Election: Lib Dems 'honest about our mistakes'

Mark Williams
Image caption Mark Williams says the Lib Dems had been the "nice guys" but then had to make tough decisions

The Liberal Democrats are honest enough to admit to making mistakes, the party's leader in Wales has said.

Mark Williams told listeners to BBC Radio Wales election phone-in that it would take time to rebuild trust with voters after a backlash against its record in a UK coalition government.

He claimed public support for a 1p rise in income tax to fund social care.

Fellow Lib Dem Kirsty Williams was boosting support for students as Wales' Education Secretary, Mr Williams added.

He was taking calls on the Jason Mohammad programme as Lib Dem leader Tim Farron prepared to launch the party's UK manifesto on Wednesday.

Mr Williams admitted the party had suffered from decisions taken during the coalition with the Conservatives at Westminster from 2010 to 2015, including the breaking of a pledge not to increase university tuition fees in England.

"It will take time for the party to build up to regain that trust," he said.

"Having been the nice guys of British politics for a long time, then to be given the responsibilities of government and make tough decisions and make mistakes, let's be honest enough and say that we got it wrong in several instances - we made mistakes.

"But we are where we are, we have to move on - I hope people will trust the sincerity that some of us have tried to show in the party, because it is genuine."

'Jeopardise'

Mr Williams pointed out that he himself had opposed the rise in tuition fees and the imposition of the so-called bedroom tax, claiming he had been thanked by people for showing an "independently-minded spirit".

He praised the role of the previous Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams, who stepped down from the role after the 2016 assembly election to join an otherwise all-Labour Welsh Government.

As education secretary, she had recognised the need to give "real, meaningful financial support" for students in Wales through grants for living costs rather than tuition fees, Mr Williams said.

On Brexit, he defended the Lib Dems' call for a referendum on the deal negotiated to leave the European Union, denying he wanted to overturn the result of last June's vote.

"The country was clear in terms of its departure - it wasn't clear in terms of the destination," he said.

"I think we need to be cautious in terms of those negotiations, because they could severely jeopardise Wales and our economy."

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