BORIS Johnson’s deliberately misled the devolved nations over his government's plans to seize control of post-Brexit EU replacement funds, a former Conservative secretary of state has admitted.

The revelations came from Alun Cairns, who served as the Welsh secretary until late 2019, in an interview published in a new book entitled “Independent Nation: Should Wales Leave the UK?”

The news centres on the UK Government funding brought in to replace the EU structural funds which had been sent to Wales and Scotland before Brexit.

Johnson’s party had pledged in its 2019 General Election manifesto to “at a minimum match the size” of the EU funds – and allowed people to think that the money would still be the devolved governments’ to allocate.

READ MORE: Tories break pledge to 'at least match' EU funds for devolved nations post-Brexit

Pre-Brexit, the EU funds were worth a total of around £1.5 billion a year.

However, the replacement Shared Prosperity Fund will only be worth £400 million in 2022, rising to £700m in 2023-2024, and to £1.5bn in 2024-25.

Furthermore, the Tory government in London took control of funding allocation, rather than leaving the power with the devolved governments in Cardiff and Edinburgh.

In “Independent Nation”, Cairns recalled being on the campaign trail with Johnson, and specifically instructing him to hide their plans to seize control of the funding.

Quoted in Wales Online, Cairns said: “When [Johnson] came down to a hustings debate, we were briefing him and I said: ‘You will get the question, about European aid, [and] in the manifesto we have got to make the commitment that there won’t be a penny less.’

READ MORE: Boris Johnson gives editor of 'The Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson' top Lords job

“To quote, Boris said to me: ‘We want to control that, don’t we?’ and I said: ‘Yes, but you can’t say that … because it will really spark a political debate in Wales, because we haven’t yet explained the commitment that you get the same money but it will be localised to a greater degree than the centralised approach that you get for the Welsh government.’

The National: Boris Johnson on the campaign trail for Vote Leave during the Brexit referendumBoris Johnson on the campaign trail for Vote Leave during the Brexit referendum (Image: NQ)

“I said to the Prime Minister: ‘The answer you’ve got to give’ – and he stuck to it absolutely – ‘is that we’ll be using good Conservative principles on how it should be spent.’ And if you look back to the quotes, that’s exactly what he said in his answer. You know, not once did we deny it, but we hadn’t laid the ground to explain."

SNP president Michael Russell, Scotland’s former Brexit secretary, said that the same had been true for Scotland.

He explained to The National: “Every time replacement funding for the very considerable European funds that came to Scotland was raised, UK ministers gave assurances they would be replaced by at least the same.

“But they were always silent on how those funds would be distributed, always implying that not much would change, but then, after the 2019 election, making it clear that they intended to cut out the Scottish Government and make all the decisions themselves – even though there was a knowledgeable and Scottish-based team already doing the job.

“At the same time it became increasingly obvious that there would be less money available and that it would be allocated for political reasons in addition to need.

“That is what is now happening – the UK Government is trying to buy friends in Scotland with public money but as the polls show even that desperate tactic isn’t working.”

Labour’s shadow secretary of state for Wales, Jo Stevens, said: "This admission proves yet again that you can never trust a single word Conservative ministers say. Time and again, the Tories repeated their manifesto promise that Wales would not receive a penny less in post-EU funding.

"As well as breaking their promise of ‘not a penny less’, the cat is now out of the bag that they knew people thought the money, like the EU funding it was to replace, would go to Welsh Government to decide how to spend and they deliberately concealed the fact that it wouldn’t.”

Asked to respond to the allegations, a UK Government spokesperson said: "As a result of leaving the EU we are now able to take decisions in the UK about how we spend UK taxpayers' money. The new UK Shared Prosperity Fund matches previous EU funding, and will mean £212 million invested directly in vital projects in communities in Scotland."

Independent Nation: Should Wales Leave the UK? was written by Will Hayward, who also works as the Welsh affairs editor at Wales Online.