Brexit shows Welsh independence must be fought with ’emotion and patriotism’ says Andrew RT Davies
Welsh independence should not be fought on “hollow economic arguments” because the Brexit referendum showed that “emotion and patriotism trump the economy”.
That is the argument of Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies in a chapter published in the book Strength in Union, launched at the Conservative party conference in Manchester.
In it he says that “separatists will always demand separatism” whether Wales is a net contributor to or beneficiary from the UK Treasury.
“We have to win the argument on an emotional and historical basis, because if there is one thing we learned in terms of campaigning during the 2016 EU referendum, it is that emotion and patriotism trump hollow economic arguments,” he writes.
“Identity, history and patriotism cannot be something you push to one side because of an economic arrangement. We need to continue to foster pride in the Union and Wales’s place within it.”
In the article, Andrew RT Davies argues that the Welsh Government’s push for more powers is an effort to weaken the glue that holds the UK together.
“Welsh Government ministers now want to see devolution of justice too,” he says.
“More and more you see an effort from Welsh Labour to make the values of the UK less relevant in our lives, and the push for devolution of justice is just another example of that.”
He adds: “The end result is that we no longer feel an attachment to the most successful union in history: the UK. I think this needs to be challenged by Welsh Conservatives within the devolved context, because no other party in the Senedd will do so.”
In the chapter, Andrew RT Davies however argues that the Conservatives must accept that “devolution is here to stay”.
“If the Wales rugby team is playing badly, you sack the coach; you do not abolish the Welsh Rugby Union,” he says.
“So the Welsh Conservatives have to engage with devolution and be a credible force for government in 2026 when the next Senedd elections roll around.
“When you look at the constitutional set-up of the United Kingdom, we have devolved parliaments and assemblies, local mayors, police and crime commissioners, and local authorities.
“The idea that Wales can be the only nation in the UK without proper devolution is for the birds.”
He adds: “We have to accept that devolution is here to stay, and unless we make our voices heard within a devolved setting, the nationalist forces in the Welsh Labour Party and Plaid Cymru will bulldoze Wales’ place from within the UK.”