RISHI Sunak should move on from the Conservatives’ previous calls for an M4 relief road around Newport and back Welsh Government plans for a public transport revolution, Mark Drakeford has claimed.

The first minister – who scrapped the project in 2019 – said the Tories’ “prominent promise” to build a motorway bypass had failed to win public support at the last Senedd elections, adding that the matter had “long been settled here in Wales”.

The relief road has long been a part of power struggles between the governments in Westminster and Cardiff Bay, and former prime minister Boris Johnson made repeated threats to override Mr Drakeford’s decision and build the road anyway.

Speaking in the Senedd this week, Conservative MS Altaf Hussain said delays around the city “often push drivers over their allotted hours”, and called on the Welsh Government to “unblock this vital link into Wales and improve the situation for Wales's road hauliers”.

But Mr Drakeford said ongoing work to make the railways the backbone of an improved public transport system would free up the motorway for road haulage firms.

“What we are doing is we are pressing ahead with the proposals of the Burns commission—a series of practical actions that can be taken to address congestion at the M4,” he said.

“We will complete the dualling of the Heads of the Valleys road, which will mean that heavy traffic coming from the midlands will be able to go directly to south-west Wales without having to come down and pass through Newport.”

The first minister added that Lord Burns' recommendations had been “endorsed” by a UK Government-commissioned review of connectivity between the four nations, and said new prime minister Mr Sunak now had “a major decision” to make.

“Shall we see whether the latest UK prime minister will take up the promises that were made in the UK connectivity review and demonstrate that they are prepared to invest in Wales, so that some of the issues that Dr Hussain has mentioned can be properly addressed?” he asked.

Turning to the Conservatives' long-standing calls for a U-turn on the relief road, Mr Drakeford added:  "The building of the M4 relief road was a prominent promise that the Welsh Conservative Party made, and your party failed to win a single [constituency] seat along the whole length of the M4 in south Wales.

"So, if you believe that your case is a sound one, you can continue to put it to people in Wales, and you'll continue to get the same answer."

Mr Drakeford later clarified that the Conservatives did win one constituency seat along the M4 corridor in 2021.