PRIME minister Boris Johnson has said he hopes to see construction of a new nuclear power plant at Wylfa as he visited the north of Wales today. 

The Conservative leader, under pressure over a police probe into parties held at Downing Street and across Whitehall during Covid lockdown and claims he personally intervened to ensure the airlift of animals from Afghanistan, escaped London today to tour the north. 

He sought to dismiss allegations that he personally intervened in the evacuation of cats and dogs with the Nowzad charity from Kabul as “total rhubarb”. 

The prime minister has insisted he and the government are focused on governing amid the various scandals, rows and allegations swirling around Downing Street. 

He praised the role of Welsh industries in what he is seeking to portray as a British economic recovery from the pandemic and also highlighted a new initiative, announced today, to make jobseekers search for work in sectors other than their own after only four weeks claiming benefits rather than three months. 

He said the UK government’s focus on infrastructure projects is benefiting firms such as the Hanson Aggregates quarry, in Penmaenmawr, Conwy he visited today. 

He told broadcasters he also hoped the investment programme will see the construction of a new nuclear reactor at Wylfa on Ynys Mon.

He said: “Whether it’s HS2, high-speed rail going north of Birmingham, whether it’s nuclear power at Sizewell or Hinkley, or indeed, as we hope, at Wylfa, there is a long, long continuous demand now because of the plans this government has for infrastructure, and therefore for Welsh granite. And that is driving jobs here in North Wales, and so I want to talk about that.” 

READ MORE: UK government could back new Wylfa nuclear plan

He also said he wanted to talk about changes to benefits forcing those looking for work to widen the typ of jobs they apply for: “You’ve got 1.25 million job vacancies in this country, 1.25 million jobs that aren’t being done. But we’ve also got 1.8 million people who are on welfare. Now, many of them can be helped rapidly into work. 

“That’s why we’re launching the Way to Work scheme today, to help them faster into the jobs that need doing across the UK – that’s good for the economy, it’s good for business, it helps to hold down inflation. And also it’s fantastic for the individuals themselves because the worst thing possible when you’re unemployed is to wait for too long. 

“And what we want to see is 500,000 of those Way to Work-ers get jobs by June.” 

While the prime minster, who admitted he wants to “get on” with government business, has sought to set an agenda related to the economy, he has again had to contend with questions over civil servant Sue Gray’s report into the Downing Street parties and is now being dogged by fresh allegations over the airlift of animals during Britain’s retreat from Afghanistan in August. 

As the prime minister was speaking fresh evidence emerged suggesting No 10 was involved in the airlift of animals out of Afghanistan.  

Accused of lying, the Prime Minister tried to fend off allegations that he assisted the approval of the evacuation of cats and dogs with the Nowzad charity from Kabul. 

But, as he was talking, further leaked correspondence was published, suggesting that then-foreign secretary Dominic Raab and No 10 were involved in the decision. 

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Orthios Eco Park, Holyhead Picture: Carl Recine PA WireBoris Johnson at the Orthios Eco Park Picture: Carl Recine PA Wire

Downing Street has repeatedly denied intervening in any individual cases in the final days of the mission as thousands of people wanting to flee the Taliban were left behind. 

But an email shared with a Commons inquiry shows a Foreign Office official saying in August that the Prime Minister had just “authorised” the animals’ rescue. 

READ MORE: 'Shameless, clueless, but still Boris Johnson clings to power'

And the BBC reported another email from the same day saying Mr Raab was “seeking a steer from No 10 on whether” to call Nowzad staff forward. 

Speaking to broadcasters during his visit, Mr Johnson said: “This whole thing is total rhubarb.” 

Pressed if he intervened, he responded: “Absolutely not, the military always prioritised human beings.” 

What do the emails say? 

Emails shared with the Foreign Affairs Committee show an official in Foreign Office minister Lord Goldsmith’s private office telling colleagues on August 25 that “the PM has just authorised their staff and animals to be evacuated”. 

Another Foreign Office official referred to the “PM’s decision earlier today to evacuate the staff of the Nowzad animal charity” in a separate email sent on August 25. 

BBC Newsnight’s Sima Kotecha went on to obtain an email from the deputy principal private secretary to Mr Raab at the time discussing Nowzad staff being called forward for evacuation. 

“The FS is seeking a steer from No 10 on whether to call them forward now,” it read. 

Another email from Nigel Casey, the Prime Minister’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, showed him asking the national security adviser “to seek clear guidance for us from No 10 asap on what they would like us to do”. 

Allies of Mr Johnson were trying to downplay the situation, with Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg dismissing calls for a debate as “fussing about a few animals”. 

The emails to the Commons inquiry were submitted by Raphael Marshall, who worked for the Foreign Office at the time and alleges the animals were evacuated following an order from Mr Johnson. 

The evidence appears to contradict the Prime Minister, who previously described suggestions he had personally intervened as “complete nonsense”. 

Downing Street sought to argue the officials in the first correspondence to be published may have been mistaken. 

On his preferred subject of the economy Johnson has also been pressed over the National Insurance rise due in April. 

READ MORE: What does Boris Johnson's social care reform mean for Wales?

Asked if the NI rise will still be going ahead amid a cost of living crisis the prime minister replied: “It is absolutely vital that we fund… it is absolutely vital, and I hope that people understand, we have to fund the Covid backlogs, we have to fix social care. Every penny will go to that end. 

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Orthios Eco Park, Holyhead Picture: Carl Recine PA WireBoris Johnson during his tour of the Orthios Eco Park, Holyhead Picture: Carl Recine PA Wire

“We had to spend over £400 billion keeping the British economy going during the lockdowns, we’ve got now to move forward, we’ve got to fix the Covid backlogs, we’ve got to sort out social care. I think that’s the right thing to do.” 

READ MORE: The Welsh MP who challenged Thatcher's leadership in 1989

Following his visit to Conwy the prime minister moved on to the Orthios Eco Park, Holyhead on Ynys Mon 

Work to transform the 230-acre former aluminium works into a green industrial park began in 2015. It now fully integrates waste processing with renewable energy production in an economically viable, socially responsible and eco-conscious way. 

The Conservatives won the Ynys Mon constituency, from Labour, at the 2019 General Election when it also won a number of traditional Labour seats in north east Wales and across northern England.

The locations during his visit today is likely to be seen as an attempt to remind voters in those areas of the Prime Minister they backed just over two years ago. 

Additional reporting: PA

If you value The National's journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.