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Drakeford refuses to correct record on rail strikes

The First Minister has been accused of misleading the Senedd after he told members that train staff had been deployed from Wales to run limited services in England during last week’s strikes despite Network Rail stating that no such thing had happened.

Last week, Leader of the Opposition Andrew RT Davies MS wrote to Mark Drakeford urging him to correct the record, saying “I believe that a correction is fully warranted” and that he was concerned that the comment “inaccurate” and “used to justify some divisive, unjust language”.

In First Minister Questions, Drakeford said “Network Rail have removed some of the staff, who could have been available to make trains run in Wales, in order to keep trains running in England.” 

Later that day, Network Rail Wales and Borders confirmed that “no Network Rail staff have been redeployed from Wales to England during this industrial action.”

In response to the Welsh Conservative leader’s letter, the First Minister did not say he would correct the record, doubling down on his inaccuracy but also admitted that:

“I have received a letter from Network Rail which provides further detail of its actions this week, including information that no staff were moved this week.”

Shockingly, during questions last week, the Welsh Labour leader said “there are no strikes in Wales”, despite the thousands across Wales who could not catch a train as stations lie empty. He also failed to say whether he supported the strikes but did not ban his ministers from attending picket lines. 

Commenting, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies MS said:

“For someone who likes to present himself a standard bearer for honesty in politics, Mark Drakeford is veering off course wildly.

“I have had to write to him twice in the last couple months urging him to correct the record after he has misinformed the Senedd, yet he has doubled down again despite Network Rail setting him straight on the day of the infraction.

Thousands of people across Wales were left unable to travel for work and school exams last week, potentially leaving many out of pocket at a time when the cost of living is in the up. Rather than stoking up division, the First Minister should be making sure people can get their jobs and exams.

“Nobody is perfect but when presented with chances to correct mistakes, it is a shame that Labour’s First Minister has chosen the route of denial in the face of facts. It is not too late for him to change his mind.”