David Jones appointed Welsh Secretary

 

North Wales MP David Jones has been promoted to Welsh Secretary in the Prime Minister's Cabinet reshuffle.

The London-born 60-year-old takes over from Cheryl Gillan, who will now return to the back benches.

Sources close to Chesham and Amersham MP Mrs Gillan say she is disappointed to be leaving her post.

However, a number of eminent Welsh Conservatives, who preferred for the secretary to be an MP who held a seat in Wales, have expressed their delight at news of the reshuffle.

Andrew RT Davies, who leads the Tories in the Welsh Assembly, said: "I look forward to continuing a close relationship with David Jones. I know he will do an excellent job.

"He has been instrumental in delivering for Wales and is the right choice to take up this position."

Cardiff-born Mrs Gillan was among a number of Conservative MPs ousted from the Cabinet in David Cameron's reshuffle.

Other notable changes included Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman leaving the Cabinet and Andrew Lansley's move from Health Secretary to Leader of the House - which has been described by many as "a demotion".

Although sources say Mrs Gillan was "gutted" to lose her Cabinet post, she insisted she had enjoyed her two-year stint as Secretary of State and was still proud to serve the Tories as an MP.

Her successor, Clwyd West MP David Jones, has been Mrs Gillan's number two in the Wales Office for the past two years.

He briefly served as an AM for North Wales following the sudden departure of then Welsh Tory leader Rod Richards.

While the father-of-two and former solicitor is a member of Labour's most-bitter rivals the Conservatives, his appointment has been welcomed by the centre-left party.

First Minister and Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones - who also holds a law degree - said he was looking forward to working with Mrs Gillan's replacement.

"The time has now come for a Secretary of State for Wales to deliver on the so-called 'Respect Agenda' promised by the Prime Minister in May 2010," he added.

"As far as the Welsh Government is concerned, we are not in a contest with the UK Government - we never have been.

"We are in the serious business of delivering for the people of Wales during these extremely difficult economic times.

"To enable this to happen, we need a Wales Office and Secretary of State that is prepared to bang the drum for Wales around the Cabinet table."

However, Plaid Cymru's leader Leanne Wood sounded more sceptical.

She said: "I remain to be convinced there will be any change in Wales' influence at the Cabinet table.

"Wales is being hit hard by the economic crisis and the deep public spending cuts.

"People can see that the same old measures are not working and are calling out for radical solutions.

"For Wales to get through this, capital investment is needed as a matter of urgency."

PA

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