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Friday, June 12, 1998 Published at 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK

UK Politics

Hague tells Welsh Tories to back Assembly

Hague: looking to the future

The Conservative leader, William Hague, has urged Welsh Tories to drop their opposition to the Welsh Assembly and throw their weight into making the new body work.

Mr Hague is addressing the annual Welsh Tory conference in Llangollen, where he told delegates to put their opposition to devolution behind them.

He said: "Labour's referendum (on the Assembly) divided Wales. The historic task for the Conservative Party now is to help unite Wales. And first and foremost, that means accepting that the battle on the setting up of a Welsh Assembly is over."

Past defeats

Over 300 delegates are attending the conference, the first since the Tory's general election defeat last May when every Welsh Tory MP lost their seat.

Since then the Conservatives have suffered a further defeat in Wales, when they lost out to the Yes campaign during the devolution referendum by just 6,700 votes.

But Mr Hague told delegates: "We lost the referendum, we must accept there will now be a Welsh Assembly."

The next campaign

The Tory leader then urged his troops to focus on the next fight in Wales - the Welsh Assembly elections.

"We must make sure that the Assembly works to the advantage of Wales - not to its disadvantage.

"We must make sure that the Assembly respects the feelings of those who vote No while reflecting the wishes of those who voted Yes."

The Tories have already chose 17 candidates for the Assembly out of total of 40. Hopefuls include the former Welsh Office Minister, Rod Richards, and Professor Nick Bourne, the Welsh party's chief spokesman.

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