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Boris Johnson’s ‘aggressive’ union flag decree ‘will feed Welsh nationalism’ First Minister says

28 Mar 2021 3 minute read
Mark Drakeford. Picture by NHS Confederation (CC BY 2.0). Right, what the new flag arrangement could look like.

Boris Johnson’s new rule that the union flag must fly on all government buildings will “feed” Welsh nationalism, according to the First Minister.

He said that “aggressive” British nationalism would be counterproductive as it would lead to a backlash, Mark Drakeford said.

His comments came after the UK Government said that the Union flag should be flown in a “superior position” to the Welsh flag.

The Welsh Labour leader made the comments in an interview with LBC’s Matt Frei, saying that while he was “very happy to see the flag flying” making it mandatory would lead to hostility.

“It’s part of the UK government’s attempt to roll back devolution and in an aggressively unilateral way,” he claimed, arguing that the policy is an attempt to “reassert the United Kingdom.”

“I want Wales to be part of a successful United Kingdom,” he said.

“Aggressive unilateral actions of this sort just feed nationalism in different parts of the UK. It’s an entirely counter-productive strategy.

“Forcing it on people really is counter-productive,” he said.

‘Shared pride’

Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, issued the order that the Union Jack be flown on all UK Government buildings.

Currently, Union flags are only required to be flown on all UK Government buildings on designated days. However, the new guidance, which will come into place in the summer, asks that the flag to be flown all year round.

The UK Government says it will now also allow dual flagging to “cut red” tape. This means that a national flag, such as the Red Dragon, can be flown on the same pole as the Union Jack. But the Welsh flag would have to be flown below, according to the guidance.

The purpose of this is to “allow organisations to highlight local and national identities”.

“The Union flag must always be flown in the superior position,” Oliver Dowden said.

“The changes will help champion the UK’s national identities and strengthen our shared pride in the Union through the institutions that define Britain.

“Currently, Union flags are only required to be flown on all UK Government buildings in England, Wales and Scotland on designated days, such as the Queen’s birthday.

“The changes will apply to all Government buildings across the UK, with the Union flag being flown by default if nothing else is being flown, such as another national flag of the UK, or a county flag or other flags to mark civic pride.

“The guidance will also encourage other buildings, such as councils, to follow this example, where they have a flagpole and wish to fly a flag.”

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