First Minister rejects call to back a referendum on Wales constitutional future
First Minister Mark Drakeford has rejected calls from Adam Price for the Welsh Government to support a consultative referendum on Wales constitutional future.
Plaid Cymru’s leader urged Mr Drakeford to back a referendum following confirmation yesterday that Westminster intends to repeal the Trade Union Act passed by the Senedd.
The UK government said it “intends to legislate to remove the Trade Union (Wales) Act 2017 through primary legislation when Parliamentary time allows, to ensure trade union legislation applies equally across Great Britain”, a move the Plaid leader said was “devolution’s breaking point”.
Describing the proposals in First Minister Questions as showing “contempt not just for workers, not just for Wales, but for our democracy,” Mr Price added.
“Westminster wants it to be a relationship where they are in control and our Senedd is subservient; Where their Parliament is supreme and ours is subordinate” and called for “legally secure routes” for Wales to be able to decide the future of its own democracy.
“This is not just one more in a long list of power grabs. It’s a turning point. It is potentially devolution’s breaking point.
“It rolls back the rights of citizens, but also it denies those citizens very right to decide their own future.
“There has to be a political response that will make Westminster sit up and listen.”
“A strongly worded letter from the Welsh Government is not going to work,” Mr Price said.
“The First Minister’s response to the Westminster power grab is to hope for a Labour success in the next General Election, but what happens if Labour loses the next general election and the one after that?
“Plaid Cymru has a very simple answer to this situation which would remove Westminster’s right to run roughshod over our democracy permanently – not just in the brief interludes of a Labour Government once every twenty years: and that is independence.”
“If Labour is not prepared to back independence now, then surely they can back a consultative referendum on Wales’ constitutional future. If it’s framed as Wales versus Westminster then surely it’s a referendum that we can win?”
In response, the First Minister said he didn’t see the purpose of “continually re-litigating this issue”
“I stood next to the leader of Plaid Cymru in debates in which he attempted to persuade people that independence—breaking away from the United Kingdom—was the best way to secure Wales’s future,” Mr Drakeford added.
“I made a different case; I make it still: that the way to ensure that people in Wales continue to exercise the level of control over our own affairs is to make sure that devolution is entrenched, that it cannot be rolled back in the way that it is currently. And there is a way to do that, Llywydd, and it’ll come at the next general election, and that cannot come soon enough.
“We don’t have a Government at Westminster” he said. “We have a set of headless chickens who run around trying to save their own skins.
“It’s time for them to clear out for people to have a chance to choose a different and a better Government”.
“And that will be the way to make sure that people in Wales have what I think they demonstrated in May of last year that they wanted.
“They want to have powerful devolution. They want to have a Senedd able to do the job that we were elected to do.
“But they want, as well, to be part of a successful United Kingdom.”
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