Keir Starmer has refused to say whether a UK Labour Government would fund an M4 relief road. Under Mark Drakeford's Welsh Government a freeze on all new road projects was put in place.

On Sunday Wales' new transport minister Ken Skates was asked about the freeze and specifically the M4 relief road, which was scrapped under Mr Drakeford's administration due to the environmental impact and cost. Mr Skates was asked on BBC Radio Wales' Sunday Supplement programme if there could be a new motorway in southeast Wales. In what appeared to be a change of tone between the old and new administration he replied: "As far as I can see that has come and gone that opportunity. In no small part because the cost would now be astronomical." He said given the inflation rate he expected the estimates would be "far, far in advance" of what was originally forecast. He said he was "determined to work with anyone who had the idea, or funding, or energy to address the problems people face".

The following interview was the UK Government'sWelsh secretary, David TC Davies, who said that if Mr Skates was purely ruling it out on cost grounds the UK Government may be prepared to meet those obligations. He said: "If it's on grounds of cost then a discussion is definitely worth having on that."

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On Monday, Sir Keir Starmer visited Wales and met with new First Minister Vaughan Gething as well as shadow environment minister Ed Miliband and Welsh secretary Jo Stevens. We were given a five-minute phone interview with the four politicians and asked them about two issues facing Wales and what a UK Labour Government would do about both the M4 relief road and job losses at Tata, specifically in Port Talbot where the most redundancies would be.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (right) and new Welsh First Minister Vaughan Gething during a visit to Holyhead
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (right) and new Welsh First Minister Vaughan Gething during a visit to Holyhead

Ruth Mosalski: Mr Skates was asked specifically about the M4 relief road and David TC Davies [Welsh secretary] was interviewed following that and said: 'if it's on cost grounds, I'd happily meet them to discuss that and it's on the table for us'. So would a UK Labour Government, or UK Labour party at the moment think of that, and would you look at funding an M4 relief road?

Keir Starmer: The first thing is to just look at the potential of 2024. We've got a new First Minister here in Wales. Obviously that begins a new era and if we're privileged enough to come into power, to have a Labour government in 2024, it'll be a game-changer whether that's road infrastructure, rail infrastructure, or we're up in Holyhead today talking about floating offshore wind and the potential for GB Energy which will be a publicly-owned company, UK-wide, working with Wales to make sure that the next generation of jobs are here. That's a game-changer, Ruth, and that's the mindset we bring to this. To hear outgoing clapped-out Tory ministers talking about what they're going to do, they've had 14 years to sort this out, and I think across Wales there's been a really sense that the conflict that's always there between a Tory government in Westminster and a Labour government in Wales is holding Wales back and if we are able to, and privileged enough to come back into power, then it'll be a game-changer.

What does game-changer mean? What are you promising that they haven't? Would you fund an M4 relief road?

Keir Starmer: "We haven't even won the election yet, we'll have to look at that, but what will be a game-changer is you'll have a Westminster government wanting to work with and collaborate with and co-operate with a Welsh Government.

In their defence they say they do want to work with, and collaborate, and sit down with Ken Skates. So what does a game-changer mean in practical terms?

Vaughan Gething: To be fair Ruth we're investing in the Burns Commission and having a UK Government we can work with to invest and draw on infrastructure – that's exactly the conversation we want to have. David TC Davies may say he wants to sit down and talk to us but that isn't the relationship we find with the UK Government.

But he's saying this is a new government that's the point isn't it Vaughan?

Ed Miliband: If you take my area of energy, it's going to be an absolute game-changer. We're going to have GB Energy, a new publicly-owned energy company working with Labour government in Wales, if we're elected, investing in projects in Wales. You're going to have our £1.8bn investment in the ports, which is going to be massive, including in ports in Wales. We're going to have a British jobs bonus which will help different areas, industrial areas of Wales, coastal areas of Wales, so we're encouraging manufacturers to manufacture here. Take those, the warm homes plan, which will help families here. If you think about all those things together that's a massive game-changer and it's about jobs of the future, of lower energy bills, and energy security and tackling the climate change.

On the specific point of an M4 relief road would a UK Labour government look at funding that?

Vaughan Gething: I think I've just told you that Ruth.

Keir Starmer: Vaughan and I are working on the same page here so I think you've heard the answer to that.

We'll move on. In terms of Port Talbot, Ed and Keir, you've talked about a £3bn plan for the entire steel sector but can you tell us what means in terms of Port Talbot itself?

Keir Starmer: I'm very concerned about Port Talbot. As you know I was down here just a few months ago talking to the workforce there. I do urge everyone to look again at the joint proposal put forward by the trade unions to find a way forward here. But again, Ruth, what you would get – this is a very specific difference. When the outgoing First Minister asked RIshi Sunak, the UK Prime Minister, to have call with him the day or two after the redundancies were announced the Prime Minister of the UK Rishi Sunak said he was too busy.

That would never happen under an incoming Labour government which is why I was down in Port Talbot talking to the workforce and Rishi Sunak was sat in London refusing to take a phone call. That's how important it is to me. I think in Port Talbot the union-backed proposal is something that everybody should take seriously.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (right) and new Welsh First Minister Vaughan Gething on board the jack-up barge Excalibur
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (right) and new Welsh First Minister Vaughan Gething on board the jack-up barge Excalibur

The company have however ruled that out, saying that's not feasible, so what's a UK Labour Government plan for Port Talbot? Those jobs go and it's the equivalent of the mining job losses of the 1970s and 1980s.

Keir Starmer: I know that – that's why I'm so worried about it. The frustration I have with the current government's position is that we have great plans for steel. We're out here today in Holyhead talking about floating offshore wind. The demand for steel under an incoming Labour government would go up, not down. There is a future for British steel if we get this right. What I want to see is no irreversible decisions at Port Talbot until we've had the general election. That is what I'm pressing for.

How much of that £3bn your party has mentioned is for Port Talbot specifically? Conversations and talking to workers is one thing but the company are very clear – they need money to even consider changing their plans. So how much of that money goes to Port Talbot?

Keir Starmer: Ruth, look, that's not a question we're able to answer in the abstract over a phone call. We're obviously talking to the company, believe you me, I've formed personal relationships with the company for very good reason, because I desperately want to save these jobs and I want to see a future for steel in Port Talbot and I obviously don't want to disclose...

When they appeared at the Welsh affairs committee a few months ago [you can read their comments here] they said they wanted to see more detail of your plan. Has that happened since then?

Keir Starmer: We're talking to them as you'd expect in a grown-up way. We're talking to them because we're so concerned about the job losses.

Ed Miliband: There's one more point I'd make to you on this: if you think about the steel plan, we first announced this two-and-a-bit years ago, the £3bn, and this demonstrates a difference between us and the government. We're determined to have a plan for clean energy and the jobs it can bring industries that are transitioning into clean energy, like steel, and having to modernise their processes and that's the difference.

Is that £3bn still the right figure then?

Ed Miliband: The problem is there is no plan.

So if your plan up to date, that £3bn you just mentioned there Ed, the world has moved on in those years?

Ed Miliband: It's £2.5bn from us and £500m from the government – £3bn over five years, not 10 years.