Lib Dems to launch Welsh election campaign with farming focus

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey will launch the party’s General Election campaign in Wales on Wednesday, with a focus on farming.

He will join Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds to set out a rescue plan for farmers, promising £1 billion in extra funding for the agriculture budget, and pledging to re-negotiate overseas trade deals and address worker shortages blighting the sector.

The Lib Dems won no seats in Wales at the last Westminster election in 2019.

Jane Dodds, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds lost her Westminster seat in the 2019 general election and now sits in the Senedd (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The last MP for the party in the country was Ms Dodds, who was elected at a by-election in 2019 but lost the seat three months later when the general election was held. She now sits in the Senedd.

The Liberal Democrats are hoping to oust Conservative MPs in Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe, a new constituency for the 2024 election.

Ms Dodds, Member of the Senedd for Mid and West Wales, said: “Up and down the country the message is clear: people want change, and on July 4 the Welsh public will have the opportunity to deliver that change by voting for the Welsh Liberal Democrats, especially in seats like Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe where we came a close second to the Conservatives last time.

“The Conservatives have consistently let down Wales, whether that’s with false promises of levelling up, selling Welsh lamb farmers down the river with broken trade deals, or allowing water companies to dump sewage in our world-class rivers. They have proven they won’t stand up for Wales or its interests.

“By contrast, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have a long and proud history of putting local communities first and we will be campaigning hard to protect our countryside, give greater support to our rural communities and farmers, and end the dentist drought across huge parts of the country.”

Ms Dodds has previously called on the Welsh Government, which controls rural affairs in Wales, to deliver a fair payment scheme following the controversial Sustainable Farming Scheme being delayed until 2026.

Sir Ed said: “This Conservative Government has left a legacy of failure from the NHS to British farming.

“In Wales, families and pensioners are bearing the brunt of a cost-of-living crisis and Conservative economic chaos in Westminster.

“British farmers are the best in the business, but Conservative neglect has left too many farmers on their knees. Rishi Sunak takes farmers for granted.

“This election gives Wales the opportunity of a lifetime to show the Conservatives the door, by voting for Liberal Democrats who will champion the best of Welsh farming.

“Jane Dodds is standing up for farmers in Wales, just as the Liberal Democrats stand up for farmers across the UK.”

The proposed extra £1 billion would go to the agricultural and horticultural budgets, and is intended to help the sector make productivity, training and technology improvements.

Sir Ed’s party also wishes to scrap visa salary thresholds to help workforce shortages, and to reopen the trade deal with Australia to ensure British standards are not undercut.