Drakeford concerned that Conservatives may attempt to ‘clip the wings’ of Welsh devolution post-Covid

First Minister Mark Drakeford. Picture by the Welsh Government.

The First Minister has said that he is concerned that Conservatives may try and “clip the wings” of Welsh devolution after Covid-19 to stop Wales having as much autonomy again.

Mark Drakeford told the Financial Times that the pandemic had awoken some Westminster politicians to how powerful the Welsh Government was and that they were “horrified” by it.

“I do think that for some Conservative political figures, coronavirus has demonstrated to them the dreadful mistake that was made in allowing devolution in the first place,” he said.

“And these are people who’ve never had to bother themselves much about it, and now that they discover it, they’re horrified.

“So, I think, there are undoubtedly people who come away from this experience thinking that what is necessary is to clip the wings of devolved administrations and to reassert the authority of the UK government.”

 

‘Colonial’

In the article senior UK Government figures, including Michael Gove, responsible for liaison with the devolved governments, say there are no plans to “dilute” devolution.

“Devolution can work effectively but, like all relationships, it requires constant attention and in the past there was a slight devolve-and-forget approach [from all previous UK governments],” he said.

One former Downing Street official, however, told the FT that there is “an almost colonial mindset” among some ministers and officials, especially in those departments less used to the devolved structure.

An example given of this is when the Health Secretary Matt Hancock cut the number of tests available to high Covid-19 areas of Wales, Rhondda and Caerphilly, based on data from England.

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