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Brexit ‘driving up independence support like Thatcher drove devolution’

05 Oct 2019 2 minute read
Jonathan Edwards MP. Picture by Plaid Cymru.

Jonathan Edwards MP will tell the Plaid Cymru conference today that the Brexit process has had the same effect on support for independence as what Thatcher had for devolution.

The main reason of the shift between the 1979 no vote for devolution, to the 1997 yes vote was “the people of our country yearned for a degree of protection via self-government” from Westminster, he will say.

Mr Edwards, who has been involved in cross-party efforts to stop a No Deal crash out of the EU, will tell the conference that Brexit has shown up the fundamental unfairness of the British State.

Speaking of the similarities between Thatcherism and the chaos of the Brexit process, the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP will say:

“I remember writing a university dissertation trying to explain the differences between the 1979 and 1997 Welsh referenda, and why Wales had gone from being overwhelmingly opposed to devolution to marginally voting in favour in the space of 18 years,” Jonathan Edwards is set to say.

“The main reason was the Thatcherism inflicted upon Wales immediately after the first referendum. The people of our country yearned for a degree of protection via self-government.”

Brexit’s exposure of the unjust relations between the different parts of the UK has driven up support for independence, much like Thatcher’s policies drove up support for devolution in the 70s & 80s, Mr Edwards will say.

Last month, a YouGov poll commissioned by Plaid Cymru placed support for independence at its highest ever level – 41% – if it meant Wales could remain a member of the European Union.

“The Brexit referendum drove a sledgehammer through the post-devolution period in Welsh history and now the stakes in the game have been raised considerably,” Jonathan Edwards will say.

“On the one hand Wales as a political nation will be re-subsumed by Westminster.  On the other hand, we can finish the job started by devolution and become a normal independent European country.”

He concludes: “I am more convinced now than ever that Brexit, whatever happens from here in, will be for independence what Thatcher was for devolution.

“Let’s get out on the political battlefield and win for Wales.”

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4 years ago

Mae o’n cywir. On Day 1 after Leave-Day, Wales’s token bit of autonomy will be gradually eroded. If Mr. Edwards can lay it on the line as regards this issue, all power to his elbow. The Leave vote was a well-intentioned two fingers to the liberal elite, mainly by an abandoned and justifiably-angry Welsh and Northern English working class and a few Essex types. But it’s consequences mean that you can kiss goodbye to Wales as a distinct cultural, linguistic and societal entity a few generations down the line. The only realistic solution, quite obviously, is independence. Wales-shire as the… Read more »

4 years ago
Reply to  Rhosddu

I do not believe that Thatcher drove devolution, perhaps, Blair did, hence only a Labour Govt in Wales since. 18 September 1997 Wales voted for a devolved assembly 50.3% to 49.7% – turnout 50.22%. 3 March 2011 Wales voted that we should have full law making powers in the 20 areas 63.49% to 36.51% turnout 35.63% 23 June 2016 Wales voted to leave the EU 52.5% to 47.5% turnout: 71.7% Leaving one union of 65m to join another union of 500m, surely would give us less clout Our family have been in Wales for many generations and I have only… Read more »

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
4 years ago
Reply to  Liberty_Legend

Less clout? Our MPs in Parliament have no real power their numbers are too small. At least as a member of the EU we would process a veto, a veto as powerful as the one held by Germany, France or Spain. We would have more of a say and, just like Ireland (with a population not much bigger than that of Wales) would prosper within the Single Market and Customs Union. In the case of Ireland it’s economy has grown immensely since joining the EU, with the UK, back in 1973 whereas the Welsh economy has actally declined and now… Read more »

jr humphrys
jr humphrys
4 years ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

Steve, agree, and just like to add that the EU is also very supportive of cultures.

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