Boris Johnson's new blueprint to 'level up' the Welsh economy and infrastructure is "a plan made for Wales – without Wales," according to first minister Mark Drakeford, who said the UK government was trying to chip away at the Senedd's powers.

He told the Welsh Parliament the so-called Plan for Wales, launched last week, had been devised at a UK level without "a single conversation with the government of Wales".

Drakeford said there had been "not so much as an invitation to a single conversation with the secretary of state [for Wales] before it was published, or even an invitation to its launch".

The fallout, coming in the first plenary session proper since the Senedd election, signals a resumption of hostilities between Cardiff Bay and Westminster over devolved responsibilities and the direction of the United Kingdom.

To much fanfare, the UK government's secretary of state for Wales launched the "ambitious programme of renewal" last week, pledging that Westminster would drive wholesale improvements in Wales, from renewable energy projects to "new green jobs".

Simon Hart said the Plan's aim was to "underscore the role of the UK government in Wales as a force for good" that was "ready to work with – not in competition against – decision makers in Wales".


But his singling out of councils, rather than the Welsh Government, as those decision-makers would have set off alarm bells in the Senedd, where yesterday the first minister said Westminster's handling of the Plan for Wales launch was "deliberate, it was provocative and it was intended to be so".

Adam Price, the leader of Plaid Cymru, said Johnson's Conservative government wanted to "reverse" devolution despite most voters, in the recent Senedd election, choosing parties that were pro-devolution.

"They have a Plan for Wales; it just doesn't involve us," Price said of the recent launch. 

"Doesn't Westminster's strategy increasingly look like abolition [of devolution] by stealth? he asked the first minister.

Drakeford agreed that "the charge sheet against the present UK government is a long and serious one", alleging Westminster was trying "every day" to "roll back the settlements that have been agreed in two referendums here in Wales".

The open criticism of the UK government's plans come a week after a cross-party group of peers in the House of Lords warned that Johnson and his ministers must show more transparency when deploying their so- called 'levelling-up agenda' of investments around the four nations.

The 'agenda' has led to the creation of a £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund, some of which will drive the investment in the Plan for Wales, but the peers warned previous use of the fund had "fuelled accusations of political bias".

And MPs from Labour and Plaid have warned the investment plans could be used to "undermine" devolution.

Hart defended the Johnson government's approach last week, saying there was nothing in the Plan for Wales that "in any way compromises the devolution settlement".

He told reporters that nothing in the new investment plan "in any way compromises the devolution settlement".

"Anybody who believes in devolution should absolutely and enthusiastically sign up to the fact that we should involve as many people as possible in the decision-making process – particularly people who are closest to the coal-face," Hart added.