Immigration not a big issue in Wales, say Reform

Reform UK Leader Nigel Farage announces his party's manifesto in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales
Reform UK launched its contract with voters, rather than a manifesto, in Merthyr Tydfil [EPA]

Immigration has not been a "a big issue" in the election campaign in Wales, a spokesperson for Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party has said.

Catrin Thomas said immigration was "much more of an issue" in England.

Liberal Democrat Jane Dodds said those she was speaking to on the doorstep wanted "more compassion" in the debate around immigration.

Welsh Green Party leader Anthony Slaughter said there was too much "toxic rhetoric" especially around stopping small boats crossing the English Channel.

The party spokespeople were all speaking to Sunday Supplement on BBC Radio Wales.

Ms Thomas underlined Reform’s policy on freezing non-essential immigration, but said there would be exceptions in healthcare.

"Reform policy for non-essential immigration is to have a 'one in, one out' approach, at least in the short term to get numbers to stabilise," she said.

She said immigration had not been a major issue on the doorstep in Wales, but was "much more of an issue in England".

"In Wales, the questions I constantly have been asked are more about transport and education and the 20mph speed limit and economic issues,” she said.

Reform, founded as the Brexit Party in 2018, has not had any Welsh representatives at Westminster or in the Senedd.

Ms Dodds, the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said she had heard calls for "compassion" when discussing immigration on the campaign trail, accusing parties of "creating division".

She was particularly concerned about those seeking asylum.

"We want to see safe and legal routes for people to come into this country," she said.

"We want to make sure that those refugees have a fair process, that it's fast, that it's efficient and that it's fair."

Mr Slaughter of the Green Party said "toxicity needs to be taken out of this debate completely", particularly regarding small boats.

"We need to provide a safe way of people to seek sanctuary. We would also need to process asylum applications fairer and faster. And we believe asylum seekers should be allowed to work while the person has been processed," he said.

Mr Slaughter was disappointed by what he saw as the "total absence" of debate around climate change in the election campaign, describing it as "the biggest existential threat facing us in our lifetime".

He said his party wanted net zero by 2040, saying it is "what the science demands".

Jane Dodds
Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds said the climate emergency has not had the prominence it should have during the election campaign [Reuters]

Ms Dodds said the "climate emergency" has not had the prominence it should have had.

"The world is on fire and you know, I take responsibility. My party needs to promote it more.

"If we don't get this right within the next, not even five years or less time, we are going to be in real trouble and then our children and grandchildren are going to suffer but it's happening right now in the world."

The Liberal Democrats last won a Welsh seat at a General Election in 2015, although Ms Dodds was briefly the MP for Brecon and Radnorshire following a by-election in 2019.

The Greens have never held a Westminster or Senedd seat on their own but Cynog Dafis was elected MP for Ceredigion in 1992 when he stood on a joint Plaid Cymru and Ceredigion Green Party ticket.