Constitutional Commission ‘proves you vote Labour, you get independence’, says Tory MS
The Constitutional Commission that is being launched by the Welsh Government “proves” that “you vote Labour, you get independence”, a Tory MS has claimed.
James Evans, the Senedd member for Brecon and Radnorshire, accused it and Plaid Cymru of supporting the “biased, vocal minority” in the pro-independence group, YesCymru.
During a debate in the Senedd with the Welsh Government’s Counsel General, Mick Antoniw, he also claimed they were “attempting to have an independent Wales by the back door”.
In response Antoniw suggested that Evans was showing “goodwill to the overlords in No. 10 Downing St” with his comments and argued that Labour has an electoral “mandate for this commission”.
The Constitutional Commission has been set up to consider Wales’ future, and will look at a range of options, including a federal UK and Welsh independence as part of its work.
It will be chaired by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and Professor Laura McAllister, a public policy academic, former international footballer and senior sports administrator.
James Evans said: “Minister, when I woke up this morning and I found out that this commission was going to be looking at independence, I was absolutely shocked, but I wasn’t surprised.
“Do you know, it made me think that this commission is likely going to be packed with independence sympathisers? One of the co-chairs leading the commission is a former Plaid Cymru candidate, and I’m not quite sure that sends the right message, that this commission will not be biased towards a certain outcome.
“Once again, the biased, vocal minority in YesCymru are being supported by this Government and Plaid, and are attempting to have an independent Wales by the back door. It just proves, doesn’t it, you vote Labour, you get independence.”
He added: “So, Minister, can you assure me and the people of Wales that this commission will seriously look at this Government and the way that it is managing devolved areas such as health, education and the economy, which are declining under your watch, and make serious recommendations on how we can improve the Senedd for the better with the powers we currently have, and not keep causing constitutional chaos and playing games with the lives of the people of Wales with this independence agenda, which is being driven by Plaid Cymru wanting to form a coalition deal with yourselves?”
‘Waking up this morning’
Counsel General Mick Antoniw replied: “Can I firstly congratulate the Member on waking up this morning? And the first thing he did was to exercise some thought. I hope this isn’t a one-off.
“Can I also thank him for the comments because I think, within the positions he’s expressed – I understand why he’s making them – obviously it’s important to show goodwill to the overlords in No. 10 Downing St, and I’m sure that features in some of the comments that have been made?
“I do find the issues that are raised in respect of constitutional chaos to be very unfortunate coming from a party that has been leading us for the last three or four years in absolute constitutional chaos, as we’ve seen from the economic factors, from the issues in terms of the situation with our ports, the economy, the petrol, the supply lines and so on. So, I don’t think you’re really in a position to argue on that.
“What I will say is this: when we get beyond the political rhetoric around this sort of thing, I’m sure that you have the ambition, as we do, to recognise that, firstly, there is a mandate for this commission, secondly, that the commission has a broad set of terms of reference, which you will be able to contribute to – you will be able to put your views into that – and that we engage positively and courteously in that particular debate.
“So, having perhaps gone down the road of responding to some of the political comments, I do recognise that there will be an opportunity for all of us to engage, because I’m sure that all of us have one clear objective, and that is to best represent the people of Wales and the interests of the people of Wales, whatever our specific differences may be.”
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