Wales politics

Assembly powers poll because of Cameron, says ex-FM Jones

David Cameron 2016 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption David Cameron was generally favourable to holding the powers referendum, says Carwyn Jones

The referendum on extending the powers of the Welsh Assembly might not have happened if Labour had won the 2010 general election, ex-first minister Carwyn Jones has said.

The 2011 referendum backed direct law-making powers for Cardiff Bay.

Mr Jones, who was Welsh Labour leader at the time, said Tory Prime Minister David Cameron's "relaxed" attitude enabled it to take place.

"In some ways, it's because of him we had it, ironically," he said.

Mr Jones said Mr Cameron was "generally favourable" to holding the referendum, in which Wales backed giving the assembly direct law-making powers by a substantial margin.

Mr Jones made the comments in BBC Radio 4's programme The Devolution Decades, marking 20 years since devolution.

"I do think that had a Labour government been elected in 2010, we might not have had that referendum in 2011," he said.

"Because there was a lot of opposition to it, amongst Labour MPs."

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Image caption Carwyn Jones says Welsh Labour MPs did not see the need for a referendum at that time

Mr Jones claims Welsh Labour MPs "were, you know, concerned about losing their own powers".

He goes on: "I don't want to make them sound as if they were only looking after themselves… they weren't... they were Westminster-based, and that's the way they saw it at the time.

"And they didn't see the need for a referendum. They saw it as, well, hang on a second, if they get primary law-making powers, what next, what next, what next?

"And at that time - it's different now, but at that time, that was a consideration.

"And I think we'd have found it difficult in 2011 to have had that referendum, in the teeth of what might have been opposition from… Welsh Labour MPs at that time."

No party won an overall majority in the 2010 general election. The Conservatives formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats.

The Devolution Decades is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 11:00 BST on Friday 17 May and then available on BBC Sounds.

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