Ladies and gentlemen – ladies and gentlemen, welcome, welcome. Prynhawn da. Great to have you here in Number 10 Downing Street. Now, before I say anything, we’ve got a wonderful choir here tonight, Eschoir. The last time I saw them, they were performing at the time of the NATO Summit – but they were performing on the platform in Paddington to get people going for the journey to South Wales. So you got some strong adoration and also some quite strange looks from people who saw you singing on the platform at Paddington, but you’re going to lead us off with 2 songs. So, Eschoir, over to you.
Thank you very much for that. It shouldn’t happen only 1 day a year when we hear brilliant Welsh voices ringing out in Number 10 Downing Street. I think we might have to make it more like a monthly occasion. But that was fantastic; thank you very much indeed.
But a very warm welcome everyone here celebrating St. David’s Day, a day late of course, but nonetheless, you’re hugely welcome here in Number 10 Downing Street. And as – you know, as an English lad, having watched that fantastic performance against France, da iawn is all I can say. But just make sure you do it again when you play the Irish, I think, and you’ll make us all happy.
Celebrating Wales and Welshness
But this for me is not just a celebration of Wales and a celebration for Welsh people across our country, and indeed across the world. It is also for me a personal celebration. I’ve been doing some research into my relatives, and my grandmother on my mother’s side was a Llewellyn. And I went a little bit further back and I found that her grandfather was actually called Llewellyn Llewellyn, – he was a tin plate maker in Glamorgan. So I think that’s real Welsh heritage.
Also, I’m a David, so I can celebrate St. David’s Day. I’m delighted the Western Mail are here; you’re running your campaign for who the – who your favourite David is, is it David Beckham, is it… I don’t know how I am getting on; all I know is Samantha admitted to me the other day that actually her favourite David is David Walliams, which I thought was slightly disappointing as she’s married to me. But nonetheless, she sat next to him at a charity function and said he was the funniest man she’d ever met, so I’m going to have to learn to live with that.
But the point about tonight is to, as I said, celebrate Wales, Welsh-ness, the celebration that people all across the world and across the United Kingdom come together and remember why St David was so important. That great saying, ‘Do ye the little things of life;’ if you fix those, then everything else will fall into place.
But I think this is actually a good year to celebrate the success of Wales, not least because when we think of Wales there is obviously so much in the arts and culture and sport, the beautiful countryside, the extraordinary coastline, the incredible industrial heritage – there are so many things to celebrate.
But I think this year perhaps we should focus as well on the great industrial future there is. When we look at The Royal Mint, which I visited last week, now selling coins and bullion and silver to countries all over the world.
There’s a huge amount to celebrate with Airbus, and I know Airbus are here tonight. They make the wings of every single Airbus anywhere in the world are made in Wales. We’re selling electronics to the Chinese; Raspberry Pi, based in Wales, selling electronics to the Chinese. And also with great Welsh companies in engineering, in motor, in military hardware, there are so many successes to celebrate in terms of Wales’s industrial future and not just industrial heritage.
And I hope people can see that we want to get behind this success and invest in this success, and when I look around and I see the fact we’re restarting the nuclear industry in Wylfa, investing in electrifying the valley lines and the line all the way out to Swansea, the excitement of the potential of a Swansea barrage, I think there are so many exciting things that are happening in Wales and I think that is what we should focus on – the industrial future, and not just the great and proud past.
And with that, I think it was exciting what was agreed between all political parties – and it’s great to see the different political parties in our country represented here tonight – but what was agreed in the St David’s Day process to have a stronger Welsh parliament, a parliament that has not just the ability to spend money, but also the responsibility of raising money with a whole fresh set of powers.
A strong United Kingdom
Because what I want passionately to happen is for the United Kingdom to make sure there’s genuine respect between the parliaments of the United Kingdom, between the different governments of the United Kingdom, devolution settlements that work for everyone, whether you’re in Wales or in Scotland, in Northern Ireland or indeed in England. And in that way I hope we can achieve something even bigger, which is to strengthen our United Kingdom, to strengthen this extraordinary family of nations where we draw such strength from the diversity of our 4 nations.
So it’s a great privilege to welcome you here tonight. It is great to see so many Welsh men and women who contribute to our national life in so many different ways. We’ve got everything from opera singers to military personnel, business leaders, cultural leaders, makers of very good beer and whisky which I sampled before I came up here – which is why I probably haven’t remembered to thank all the people I was meant to thank – but for all those reasons and many more besides, you’re hugely welcome here in Number 10. Have a very happy St David’s Day, and thank you.