Infrastructure-light, but big on Brexit: Welsh Conservative manifesto

David Morgan

Policy Manager (RICS)

The Welsh Conservative manifesto contrasts with the 2016 assembly document, which focused directly on specific projects and issues and far less on the constitution; this is probably a reflection of the vastly changed landscape after the EU Referendum. Notably, the manifesto demands significant Welsh Assembly and Welsh Government input on Brexit.

Welsh Conservative's manifesto is shorter than Welsh Labour's, but certainly not light on detail covering the economy, Brexit, digital matters and the constitution. Apart from the issue of Brexit and strong support for the union, perhaps most relevant to Wales are the promises on agricultural support post-Brexit (which we called for clarity on), a shared prosperity fund to address funding issues after the end of EU funding, a funding-floor for Wales and, encouragingly, a commitment to infrastructure in a North Wales growth deal.

Infrastructure

Apart from promising new rail lines and stations, the manifesto was light on infrastructure commitments. It promised to press Welsh Government on road improvements to the A40, A55 and M4, but there were no guarantees either on the proposed tidal lagoons or electrification of the rail line all the way to Swansea. There was also no firm commitment on 'Wylfa B'. Finally, while the promise of a North Wales growth deal was welcome, we need details to assess its promise adequately.

Welsh Conservative's main commitment is the pledge to scrap Severn Bridge tolls.

Rural

With much of rural and environmental policy either devolved or for now still in the province of the EU, the conservatives again have little in the way of specific promises. The party promises to support food production after Brexit and commits to devise a new agri-environmental system. While both these points would benefit from greater clarity, returning more certainty for the welsh rural economy would be greatly beneficial.

Summary

As expected, with its identity as the "party of the union", some would argue Brexit constitutional matters occupy a prominent role in the manifesto. The conservatives have indicated that more powers will be devolved post-Brexit, that there will be more support for farmers and the rural economy, and that a shared prosperity fund will replace EU funding.

At present, polls indicate a substantial conservative majority, but with relatively few commitments much of the detail of what will be carried into action remains to be seen. Devolved matters aside, the manifesto gives a relatively free-hand to the party in Wales if it is indeed victorious. As Wales heads for its third major vote in three years, we stand ready to work with stakeholders across the political spectrum to support the best possible future for the land, property and construction in Wales.

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