Wales politics

Labour infighting on Barnett formula, says Theresa May

Carwyn Jones and Jeremy Corbyn
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn has been urged to clarify his position on funding after Carwyn Jones's comments

The prime minister Theresa May has accused Welsh and UK Labour of infighting over the Barnett formula.

There have been calls for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to clarify plans for the way that funding is distributed to the devolved nations and English regions.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said Labour would scrap the Barnett formula if elected in Thursday's general election.

But a UK Labour spokesman denied such a plan, saying it would consult on long-term reform of funding allocation.

The SNP said Mr Corbyn "must make clear how much a Labour government would cut Scotland's budget by".

Mrs May said: "The infighting that's taking place is between Carwyn Jones, and the Welsh Labour Party, and Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party.

"They can't even agree on how much money is going to be available to Wales under a Labour government.

"It is the Conservatives who signed a deal with Carwyn Jones, who have got the arrangements in place to guarantee and to ensure sustainable funding for Wales into the future."

Welsh Labour has long claimed that the formula has left Wales out of pocket, particularly compared with Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Its manifesto says: "We need long term reform of how the UK allocates public expenditure to ensure that it reflects the needs of different parts of our country."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Theresa May said Labour "can't even agree on how much money is going to be available to Wales"

When asked if Labour would scrap the Barnett formula, Mr Jones told BBC Wales: "That's what the manifesto says."

He said: "It says in the manifesto that there will be a new funding formula based on need. That means having a new formula to replace Barnett.

"Nobody can defend a situation where we have a funding formula that is over 38 years old by now, that was based on the way things were in the 70s."

'Unanimously'

A spokesman for the first minister said the Welsh Labour position was passed unanimously at a meeting to decide the content of the party's UK manifesto after discussions between Carwyn Jones and Jeremy Corbyn.

He went on to say that if Labour is elected, the formula will continue in the short to medium term while a new model is developed.

But a UK Labour spokesman said: "Our manifesto costings are based on the Barnett Formula and we will not scrap it.

"Over the course of the next parliament, we will consult on long-term reform of how the UK allocates public expenditure to ensure that it reflects the needs of the nations and regions of the UK."

Opposition parties have seized on the apparent differences.

The SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson said: "This is an astounding admission from one of Labour's most senior figures, which has fatally undermined Kezia Dugdale's attempts to portray Labour as standing up for Scottish interests.

"Even Scottish Labour have acknowledged that the Barnett formula is worth £4 billion to Scotland - and three days out from a General Election, Jeremy Corbyn must make clear how much a Labour government would cut Scotland's budget by."

Plaid Cymru's Jonathan Edwards said: "Carwyn Jones can say what he likes but until he can convince his London bosses to put his opinions in his own party's manifesto, his words are worthless."

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