First Minister says risk of UK breaking up is greater than at any point in his lifetime
First Minister Mark Drakeford has condemned former Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the “bully-boy-Britain” approach he adopted in an effort to shore up the union and says the risk of the UK breaking up is currently greater than at any point in his lifetime.
Appearing on The Rest is Politics podcast, hosted by the former Labour Party spin doctor Alastair Campbell and ex Tory MP and minister Rory Stewart, Mr Drakeford said Mr Johnson, who stepped down earlier this month didn’t treat the devolved administrations with respect and “believed that the way to save the United Kingdom was to assert muscular unionism”.
Describing the approach as “completely counterproductive” Mr Drakeford said the Prime Minister’s tactics contributed “to the fragility of the United Kingdom, rather than helping it to be something, which people choose to belong to – want to belong to.”
When quizzed by Campbell on the future for Wales if Scotland voted for independence and there was a united Ireland, the First Minister admitted: “The risk the United Kingdom will not continue is greater today than at any time in my political lifetime.
“I certainly don’t think it’s inevitable. I think there’s an offer about of the United Kingdom, it’s a Labour offer in my view, that people would wish to buy into.
“They would see the advantages that the United Kingdom can bring, and we’re desperately short of an articulation by any other party of the positive case for a voluntary Union.”
Referencing the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales which was established last year and is co-chaired by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and Professor Laura McAllister of Cardiff University, Mr Drakeford said: “It’s asked to look at two questions, first of all, if the United Kingdom stays together, how can we better organise ourselves to make sure that it goes on being a success?
“But then it has a second question, that if the United Kingdom starts not to stay together, what are the options for Wales?
“Because the idea that Scotland leaves and everything else continues as though that hadn’t happened is clearly not plausible at all.
“We’ve never needed to do serious thinking about what the choices for Wales would be and the commission will help us to do that, but we’re having to map out that territory with a seriousness that I think reflects the risks that we currently face.”
Describing the campaign for Welsh independence as a minority view, Mr Drakeford added: “There is a growing interest in independence because of the risks that are there to the future of the United Kingdom, that’s inevitable.
“But it would still be or the small minority but no more than 20%.”
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