Wales politics

General election: Tory Alun Cairns says job is best route out of poverty

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Media captionThe best way out of poverty is to get a job, Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns told a BBC Wales debate on Monday.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns has defended the UK Government's record on poverty, saying he believed the best way out of it is to "get a job".

Taking questions in a live BBC Wales Ask the Leader special at Rhos, near Wrexham, he admitted that people needed better paid jobs.

He added that millions of the poorest people were being taken out of tax by an increase in the personal allowance.

Mr Cairns said his party was committed to supporting vulnerable people.

"Getting a job is absolutely the best way out of poverty," he said.

"But also I recognise that people need better paid jobs and the national living wage gave close to a seven percent increase to the lowest paid over the last year - so that is a positive step."

Mr Cairns said the commitment to increase the personal tax allowance to £12,500 by 2020 "will take millions of the poorest people, poorest earners, out of paying tax altogether".

The Welsh secretary also insisted Theresa May was the best person to negotiate the right Brexit deal for the whole UK economy with the remaining European Union member states.

"There could be 27 nations lining up to oppose us and on that basis we need a strong leader in order to be challenging them," he said.

Mr Cairns also backed the prime minister's pledge to hold a free vote of MPs on fox hunting and that he supported ending the ban.

"I will vote to repeal the ban because it doesn't work as it is," he said. "Even Tony Blair who was the prime minister who committed to introducing it says he regrets it".

He added: "I think there's a whole host of things that we can do that would be more effective in achieving what people want to achieve".

Expert view on the Welsh Conservative campaign - from Nye Davies of Cardiff University's Wales Governance Centre

There is no doubt what this election is about for the Conservatives. Theresa May has repeated "strong and stable" and it does not seem as though she will stop any time soon. The prime minister is determined to make this election about Brexit and how a vote for the Tories means a vote for her to have a "strong hand" at the negotiating table with the EU. An added dimension to this election is the potential for the Conservatives to make significant gains in Wales.

Recent polling data from the Wales Governance Centre suggests the Conservatives may be on course to become the largest party in Wales, a huge electoral breakthrough which would see the Labour Party losing its position as the dominant party in Wales, which it has held since 1922.

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