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The Welsh Government has announced a new co-operation agreement with Plaid Cymru across a number of policy areas to help it deliver on its election promises, calling it a “huge step forward” for the country.
The three-year pact will be a joint policy programme covering 46 areas, from the delivery of free school meals for all primary schools to the establishment of a national care service, action on the second homes crisis and reforming the Senedd
The Labour government secured the deal to “secure a better future” for the country post-pandemic and after the UK left the European Union, First Minister Mark Drakeford said on Monday.
Plaid Cymru is the third largest party with 13.
Both parties have said their agreement is not a formal coalition.
We can achieve more for people in Wales by working together and the co-operation agreement is both a response to the external challenges we face and a chance to build on the opportunities in our future
First Minister Mark Drakeford
Mr Drakeford said: “The Welsh Government has an ambitious programme for government, which it will deliver over this Senedd term.
“But we do not have a monopoly on good ideas and we will work with progressive parties where we have shared and common interests to benefit people in Wales.”
He continued: “We can achieve more for people in Wales by working together and the co-operation agreement is both a response to the external challenges we face and a chance to build on the opportunities in our future.”
Mr Drakeford added: “These commitments build on our shared values of social solidarity, a sustainable planet and a vibrant democracy.”
A spokesman for the Government said issues falling outside of the agreement “will be handled in the normal course of political engagement”.
Speaking outside the Senedd, Mr Drakeford said: “What you see today is a part of a 20-year history of working across political divides here in the Senedd.
“It is a sign of the maturity of Welsh politics, also a sign of our ability to innovate and create solutions that work for us here in Wales.”
Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru, said the party will “remain an opposition party” and said the deal was a “huge step forward” for Welsh Politics.
He said: “We’re setting out a new way of doing politics. When I look at Westminster, it’s stuck in a 19th century time warp, a winner-takes-all type of politics.
“Policy is more important to us than position. We believe the purpose of politics is to make a big difference.
“We don’t believe one party has the monopoly on truth, virtue or good ideas.
“In terms of voters, I think the average Welsh citizen will say ‘yes, this is what I want to see’, politicians from different parties working together for the purpose of getting things done to improve things for the people of Wales.”
Some of the policy proposals include creating a publicly-owned energy company for Wales to encourage community-owned renewable energy projects.
There are also plans for further flood defences and new measures to strengthen the Welsh language, create more support for young people’s mental health and to increase the number of members in the Senedd.
Both parties have also agreed to set about immediately establishing a national care service which is free at the point of need.
Addressing this policy, Mr Price said: “This is huge, it’s an incredible step forward and now we’ve agreed what the goal is we need to get there as soon as we can.”
Welsh Conservative shadow minister for the constitution, Darren Millar MS, called the deal “appalling”, claiming it “fails to deliver on the priorities of the people of Wales”.
“It does nothing to address the crisis in our NHS; nothing to improve our ailing Welsh infrastructure; and nothing to fire up our sluggish economy,” he said.
“Yet again, Plaid has betrayed its voters with another deal that cements a failing Labour administration into power for years to come.”
He added: “The message to voters is clear; vote Plaid, get Labour, and vote Labour, get Plaid. Only the Welsh Conservatives can deliver the real change that Wales needs.”