Drakeford only doubting Union to secure post-election deal with Plaid Cymru, Welsh Secretary says
The First Minister Mark Drakeford is only criticising the Union in order to secure a post-election deal with Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Secretary has claimed.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Simon Hart responded to a question from an SNP MP who called for an independence referendum for Wales.
He responded that Mark Drakeford had been “reckless” but that he knew the “price” of a deal with Plaid Cymru.
SNP MP Anne McLaughlin had said that “the Labour First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, told the Welsh Affairs Committee a few weeks ago that devolution is under aggressive attack by a Tory Government who have ‘outright hostility’ at the heart of their governance”.
“With independence currently polling as high as 40% in Wales without an official campaign, will the Secretary of State respect the democratic rights of people in Wales and Scotland to have a post-pandemic independence referendum in the event of pro-independence majorities in May?” she asked.
Simon Hart responded: “I think the First Minister has been pretty reckless in trying to inject an air of uncertainty into these discussions”.
“And most of us realise that he is only doing so because his only chance of remaining as First Minister post May is to do some kind of a deal with Plaid Cymru; and we know what the price of that would be.”
He also said that he “[looked] forward to the people of Wales giving a resounding endorsement of the Union at the Senedd elections in May”.
During an evidence session at the Welsh Affairs Committee earlier this month, Mark Drakeford said the United Kingdom “is over” and a new union should be crafted to reflect a “voluntary association of four nations”.
Mark Drakeford had taken the opportunity during his evidence session to condemn the UK Government’s approach of bypassing the devolved governments through levelling up funds.
“For the first time since devolution, we are dealing with a UK Government which is aggressively unilateral … and that there is outright hostility to the fact of devolution at the heart of the Government … and a belief that the best way to deal with [devolution] is to bypass it, to marginalise it, to act as if devolution didn’t exist,” he said.
“There is no institutional architecture to make the United Kingdom work,” he added.
“It is all ad-hoc, random, and made up as we go along. And I’m afraid that really is not a satisfactory basis to sustain the future of the UK.”