Mark Drakeford has said he wouldn’t agree to an independence referendum to strike a deal with Plaid Cymru.
The First Minister was asked on ITV politics show, Sharp End, what he would do if Labour fell short of a majority in the Senedd election and wanted to come to an agreement with the nationalist party to form a government.
Mr Drakeford dismissed suggestions of agreeing to an independence referendum as part of a coalition deal with Plaid Cymru and said he would only back one in an event that a party proposing it won a majority in an election.
According to the Welsh Political Barometer poll by YouGov/ITV Wales, Labour is projected to fall short of winning a majority with 26 out of 60 seats, whilst Plaid Cymru would win 15. That would leave the Conservatives with 16, Abolish the Assembly with 2, and the Liberal Democrats with just 1.
Mr Drakeford said: “My aim will be to elect as many Labour Senedd members as possible and to have a majority. That’s what we’re working hard to do.
“If that isn’t the case of course we will look to see where there may be support from others.
“My view on the referendum question is this. If a party in an election proposes a referendum, secures a majority, of course there should be a referendum because that then has won the democratic approval of people of Wales.
“If that isn’t the position there will be no mandate for anybody to go ahead with a referendum because parties not in favour of a referendum will be in the majority.
“The key thing is whether you can agree on a programme, not a political fix, not a deal between parties. It’s the hard work that goes into finding a programme for government that you can agree on if you can and then putting it to parties to see whether it can be endorsed.”
‘State of the union’
The First Minister also was asked about the “state of the union” as well as the grassroots pro-independence movement YesCymru which has 17,000 members.
He said: “I think the state of the United Kingdom is more perilous today than at any time in my political lifetime. I think conditions on the island of Ireland have been altered by Brexit where people in the north of Ireland voted to remain in the European Union.
“I think there’s every chance that circumstances there will alter over the years to come.
“Scotland has a government dedicated to taking Scotland out of the United Kingdom and has won elections at the Westminster end and the Scottish Parliament with that in mind.
“I’ve been Yes for Wales throughout my life. I’ve spent my whole political life trying to advance the interests of Wales. That isn’t something that is captured by any particular group.
“I make the case for the union wherever I can. Wales is better off inside a successful United Kingdom with an engine of distribution in which we all make our contribution and where that then is shared out according to our needs, and Wales benefits from that.
“That’s the case for the United Kingdom that I make. We need a UK Government that respects devolution, that understands that people want to have decisions made close to home, in the hands of people they’ve directly elected to make those decisions, and that way we will go on making the case.
“I think the opinion poll you are publishing today will demonstrate that people in Wales still powerfully support a devolved Wales in a successful United Kingdom. That’s the case I’ll be making.”