THE new secretary of state for Wales believes prime minister Rishi Sunak will lead by example and make professionalism a priority in Westminster.

David Davies, the MP for Monmouth who joined the cabinet earlier this week, also said he was keen to ensure a spirit of cooperation with the Welsh Government on matters affecting Wales’ future.

Mr Sunak was named prime minister after Liz Truss' tumultuous 44 days in Downing Street – her own appointment to the top job had been precipitated by a wave of resignations in the summer over the manner of Boris Johnson’s leadership.

Mr Davies believes former chancellor Mr Sunak will be a calm and competent leader after what has been a difficult period in the UK’s politics.

“I don’t want to criticise anyone who’s been in government – it’s always very difficult,” Mr Davies told the Argus. “What Rishi Sunak brings is a huge degree of professionalism. During the Covid crisis as a junior minister, I often stood in on meetings when [Simon Hart, previously] the secretary of state was elsewhere.

“I can truthfully say this is a man who has incredible level of intellect. He’s completely over his brief – he was as chancellor as he will be as prime minister – and it was fascinating to have worked closely with him at the time. He’s a guy who’s very, very hot on detail and extremely knowledgeable about financial matters, which is just what we need at the moment.”

The Monmouth MP admitted there were “many challenges ahead of us at the moment, particularly around the cost of living” and “we need to be all of us very professional in the way we conduct ourselves”.

The years since the 2019 General Election have seen various tussles between the governments in the Senedd and in the House of Commons, particularly during the pandemic, when first minister Mark Drakeford took multiple opportunities to carve out a separate path for the Welsh response – even though aspects like vaccines, PPE and foreign travel were generally dealt with on a UK-wide basis.

Mr Davies said he hoped to work “very closely” with the Welsh Government in his new cabinet role, citing his previous cordial relations with ministers in Cardiff Bay as proof the relationship could work.

“On a day-to-day basis I’ve never had any issues with the various Welsh Government ministers I’ve worked with, and of course I’ve met Mark Drakeford in my previous role on many occasions, and on a personal level we’ve always got on perfectly well,” he said.

“I’m not going to hide the fact there are always going to be some tensions when you have what one would say is a left-of-centre government in Wales and a centre-right government for the United Kingdom.

“That clearly will cause tensions from time to time, but I hope we’re all professional enough to not let that get in the way of doing the right things for Wales.”

Mr Davies will now have to balance his cabinet duties with constituency matters, and he singled out transport as one issue on which he would continue to campaign for what he believes is an area the Welsh Government should change tack.

“I would very much like to see an M4 relief road, as would most businesses in the area,” he said. “There is far too much congestion on there. I’m also concerned about the Welsh Government’s decision not to build any roads within Wales. We can’t avoid the fact roads are important to the economy, and in my constituency, in Chepstow, we have enormous problems with congestion because of the lack of a bypass.

“I just find the Welsh Government’s decision not to build any further roads at all in Wales is one that is incomprehensible – it’s one that I could never support and I’d urge the Welsh Government to reconsider this, but I do that in my capacity as an MP of course.

“As a minister I fully respect the Welsh Government have the right not to build roads if they don’t want to.”

Earlier this week, Mr Drakeford said he hoped Mr Sunak would abandon Conservative calls to revive the relief road - a matter he said had been settled by voters in last year's Senedd elections.