Wales politics

'Real devolution' if UK leaves EU, UKIP's Nathan Gill says

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Media captionNathan Gill says voting to leave the EU would be a 'leap into the light'

UKIP's Wales leader has said the UK leaving the European Union would mean "real devolution" for Wales.

Nathan Gill told the party's conference in Llandudno EU responsibilities over farming, fishing, and business would transfer to Cardiff Bay.

But the Wales Stronger in Europe group said "vital EU funding" for farmers and businesses would be lost.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he was optimistic his party would "make a breakthrough" in the assembly election.

'Right and wrong'

With elections in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and London amongst the polls taking place on 5 May, he told the conference UKIP faced a "vast organisational task".

"But I'm pretty optimistic, I'm certainly optimistic here in Wales, that we're going to do very well and make a breakthrough," he said.

"We will once again do what we did in the general election, we will surprise the commentators by just how many votes we take from the Labour Party."

Appealing to Labour supporters and trade unionists to get behind the campaign to leave the EU, Mr Farage warned that the referendum in June could not be won "from the centre-right of politics in this country".

"We must portray this as not being a battle of left and right, it's a battle of right and wrong, it's a battle about who governs our country, that's the message we've got to put out there," he said.

Earlier, playing down the party's assembly selection row, Mr Farage told BBC Wales "the messages" not "the messenger" were important.

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Media captionNigel Farage says fighting so many elections is a big challenge for UKIP

Mr Gill has said getting 10 regional AMs elected in May's assembly election would be a good result for the party.

But after a long-running internal row, the party is yet to finalise its regional candidate selections.

Mr Gill told the conference: "We can bring back the 75% of laws made by faceless bureaucrats in Brussels, from farming, fishing and employment, energy, business and trade - a whole host of laws that would end up right where they belong, here in Wales, written for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales and for the people of Wales to democratically vote on.

"Now that's what I call real devolution.

"We can protect our industries, tap into our wealth of natural resources and put power back into the hands of the people."

'Shock'

A fringe meeting at the conference with Mr Farage had to be moved due to the number of people who wanted to attend.

He eventually addressed delegates from a stairway at Venue Cymru, urging UKIP members to work with other parties in the EU referendum campaign.

Image caption Rhodri Glyn Thomas says UKIP is offering 'false and empty promises'

Plaid Cymru AM and Wales Stronger in Europe spokesman Rhodri Glyn Thomas said: "Given that UKIP spent years opposing devolution altogether, their apparent conversion to giving the assembly more powers rings hollow indeed.

"If the UK left Europe, vital EU funding for Welsh farmers, businesses and universities would be lost, wreaking untold damage on our economy."

Finance ministers from the world's leading economies also warned of a "shock" to the global economy if the UK leaves the EU.

UKIP Wales' main policies for the assembly election are:

  • Make local health boards elected and halve the number of NHS managers on six-figure salaries
  • Reintroduce grammar schools and establish "university technical colleges" for 14-19-year-olds
  • Oppose tax powers for the assembly without a referendum
  • Oppose any increase in the number of AMs
  • Devolve economic development powers to local authorities
  • Scrap the Severn bridge tolls

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