UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer joined first minister Mark Drakeford on the campaign trail in Newport today ahead of the Senedd elections.

The pair headed to the CAF train manufacturing factory just outside of the city where new trains for the South Wales Metro are being built.

In his first visit to South Wales as Labour leader, Sir Keir praised the work of the Welsh Government and hailed Mr Drakeford’s “incredible” leadership.

He said: “We are down in Newport today looking at the train manufacturer here at CAF which has been heavily invested in by the Welsh Government, looking at the trains that they are making and the jobs that the government are supporting here.

“I think that is part of the record that you have got with Mark Drakeford and the Labour Government here in Wales, good-quality, high-skilled jobs.

“The pandemic is very difficult for any government and it is a real test of leadership. I think Mark Drakeford and the Labour team have done an incredible job and I think the vast majority of people in Wales recognise that.”

When asked if he feared the limitations the Welsh Government has had to put on people’s lives could hurt them at the ballot box, first minister Mark Drakeford said he had experienced the opposite.

He said: “Wherever we go people want to talk about the pandemic but the huge majority of people want to come up and tell you that they are very glad they have lived in Wales, they feel we have worked together to keep Wales safe, and they want to know what the next Labour Government will do to make sure we recover from it.”

However, the Welsh Government has received backlash in recent weeks for their approach to reopening hospitality.

With pubs able to open outdoors in England, landlords in Wales have been left frustrated, with some in Gwent even threatening legal action.

Mr Drakeford said he understood the frustration, but that delaying reopening was the correct thing to do.

The first minister added: “The truth of the matter is we have had businesses open in Wales for weeks before businesses in England have been able to open, look at hairdressers for example.

“The length of time between Wales reopening some more businesses and England is a matter of a couple of weeks. That couple of weeks is necessary, our chief medical officer has been very clear to me.

“We have done a lot of things and we need a small pause to make sure that those things aren’t going to bring the virus flooding back again.

“Luckily, the figures are down again, so it looks like we have done all of those things – schools are back shops are open, close contact services are up and running – and we are not seeing any adverse affect from it.

“But it is right to test it and providing everything is good we can get on with reopening more areas of our society.”


That approach was backed by Sir Keir, who said he supported the “careful and cautious” approach taken in Wales.

The Labour leader said: “The question is how do we unlock and come out of restrictions carefully and cautiously without risking going back into a situation that we all want to get out of.

“What Mark has done is carefully followed the science and taken Wales to a place where there are less infections in Wales than anywhere else in the UK and the vaccination programme is third in the world.

“I understand the frustration, but I think people will look at what Mark has done and say that in the end being cautious and careful has got Wales into a very good position.”