Drakeford: Prime Minister can’t stand in way of Welsh and Scottish independence referenda

First Minister Mark Drakeford. Picture by the Welsh Government.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has said that no UK Prime Minister has the right to stand in the way of an independence referendum in either Scotland or Wales if the people wanted one.

He also told Sky News that the UK had to prove that it worked practically for everyone and that “sentimental value” would not save it.

Wales would have to consider whether what remains of the United Kingdom worked if Scotland and perhaps Northern Ireland were to leave, he added.

“I am very clear that if a population in Scotland, or indeed in Wales, wanted to hold a referendum it is for the people of Wales and the people of Scotland to make that decision,” Mr Drakeford said.

“And then that decision must be respected. So that’s my starting point… is that no Labour leader should argue that the component parts of the United Kingdom can be prevented from navigating a future for themselves.”

He also said that “we have to stand up for Wales, but Wales is part of the United Kingdom.” However “if the United Kingdom were to fracture… then everybody will have to think about the way in what remains can go on working for everybody.

“I’ve never been much attracted to, sort of, ‘Rule Britannia’ British value sentimental argument to the United Kingdom unless you can make it work practically and demonstrate to people it makes a difference in their lives in the case has diminished, but I think you can make that practical case.”

 

‘Frustrating’

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart responded to the suggestion that the pandemic had driven the UK further apart by suggesting that the first ministers of Wales and Scotland had been playing politics in some cases with coronavirus.

“The idea that Wales or Scotland or NI or England may do things differently because they can,” he said.

“I think that is quite frustrating if you happen to be a business, charity, family, or individual, which may particularly in Wales’ case, have significant cross-border interests.

“If you’re struggling to run a business and you may be in one of the border counties when you rely very heavily on cross-border activity, that can be intensely frustrating and give rise to people thinking that this is about politics. It’s not about COVID or economy.”

However, he did not rule out a second independence vote in Scotland, saying that he did not have a crystal ball.

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