Monmouth grassroots Tories back sacked AM

GRASSROOTS Tories in Monmouth have hit out at the decision by the Welsh Conservatives’ leader to sack the constituency’s AM from the party’s Assembly front bench.

Barrie O’Keefe, chairman of the Conservative Association in Monmouthshire, called the situation around Nick Ramsay’s sacking bizarre and said the group has expressed its feelings to the party’s Welsh board.

Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies yesterday came back fighting – saying it wasn’t a resigning issue.

Monmouth AM Mr Ramsay, South Wales East AM Mohammad Asghar, Antoinette Sandbach and Janet Finch-Saunders were dropped from the shadow cabinet last week amid a row over income tax.

The four had failed to back an Assembly amendment opposing the “lock-step” proposed by the UK government – which would only allow each rate of income tax in Wales to be varied at the same time.

Mr O’Keefe said the officers and members of the Monmouth Conservative Association are “most disappointed with the events” which have taken place in Cardiff Bay.

“Bizarrely the member for Monmouth Nick Ramsay has been sacked from the chairmanship of the business committee for refusing to vote with the Assembly Conservative Group against national Conservative policy,” he said.

“The party in Monmouth is solidly supporting Nick Ramsay in this issue, and we have made our feelings abundantly clear to the board of the Welsh Conservative Party”.

In his weekly press conference Andrew RT Davies said he found difficult to come to terms with “talk about a difference with the UK government policy.”

He said there was no difference in UK government and his group’s policy “in that we support the devolution of certain income tax powers and other tax powers to the National Assembly.”

“What we’ve done is stick coherently to a line that we agreed back in November 2012. That’s a fact,” he said.

The leader said: “The real issue is do we want to be a low tax party here in Wales or do we always want to be a party of opposition?”

Mr Davies said there were four backbench members in his group and that he couldn’t see why it wouldn’t be like that by the end of the week. “I know the media is fixated by speculation and ill-informed gossip,” he said, referring to reports of further strife.

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