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First Minister says risk of UK breaking up is greater than at any point in his lifetime

17 Sep 2022 3 minute read
First Minister Mark Drakeford

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?

Not plausible

“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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I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
18 days ago

From Keir Hardie to Keir Starmer. Nothingness.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
18 days ago

Mark Drakeford is mistaken when he dismisses support for Welsh independence as being “no more than 20%”….a poll only last month put the figure at 30% – and other polls taken over the last year have put the figure even higher.

Frank
Frank
18 days ago

If a break-up of the union should happen the powers that be in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland need to keep their eye on all the British treasures and money currently being held in the S.E. of England. It needs to be assessed now so that each nation is sure to get their fair cut before it is hidden away by dodgy politicians who may grab all the best goodies for England.

Last edited 18 days ago by Frank
Arwyn
18 days ago

I listened to the podcast. Drakeford has a lot to like. I agree with him on a great many points and appreciate his approach to politics. There is one great gaping incongruity in his position on Welsh Statehood however. He says that he believes that the UK is better for having Wales in it an Wales is better for being in the UK. He also says how well the Labour Welsh Government has done on delivering Left Wing policies according to its manifesto/mandate despite the budget handed to it by the Tory Government. The two things are mutually exclusive. As… Read more »

Wynn
Wynn
18 days ago
Reply to  Arwyn

Excellent post. I’m from Scotland and I have a positive view of Drakeford but then again I don’t know the detail of living with the man as a politician, but in comparison to the Labour lot we have up here he seems good. However, the idea that Labour has the answers for the UK is pure pish. I don’t even know what they are. We had Anis Sarwar spouting some new version of their crappy federalism which when decoded looked more like the ‘regionalising’ of Scotland and Wales – making us into a tartan shortbread Yorkshire and a daffodilly Lancashire.… Read more »

Arwyn
17 days ago
Reply to  Wynn

Indeed. Sarwar appears to have the strategic nous of a Lemming. Drakeford is a far more savvy political operator. The trouble for Welsh Labour is that its own constitutional vision appears to be at odds with that of UK Labour centrally. Drakeford mentioned Brown’s review in the podcast. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall in their converations. I suspect that what Brown will propose will fall short of the Home Rule that Drakeford has called for. I suspect that Westminster will continue to be the central authority under his proposal and ultimately, will not be sufficient… Read more »

David Smith
David Smith
17 days ago
Reply to  Wynn

These federalist imbeciles should offer up an example of a federal union of equity of say in the federal parliament when one subunit is five times the size of the rest put together. I’ll be waiting.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
17 days ago
Reply to  David Smith

I reckon talk of constitutional reform is just a time-buying tactic for Labour in Wales. Keep the indy curious and independence-leaning Labour voters distracted with talk of “constitutional reform” during an unpopular Conservative administration, while hoping talk of breaking away will be quelled until a Labour government is elected in Westminster. Only, Labour are still unlikely to be elected with an outright majority in 2024, and their members have already poured cold water on the prospect of constitutional reform, so that isn’t happening either. Labour are teaming up with the Tories up in Scotland to try to keep the SNP… Read more »

David Smith
David Smith
13 days ago
Reply to  SundanceKid

They’re more of the same, British establishment vermin.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
17 days ago
Reply to  Wynn

I like Drakeford but he does tend to sit on the fence. When it comes to independence, it seems to be one step forward and two steps backwards. He says all the right things, and then he starts banging on about how we are “better off” in the union. A deliberate ploy to keep independence-leaning Labour voters and the indy-curious from moving on to Plaid, and it is a strategy that has worked well for them in Wales so far. What he neglects to mention is that UK Labour members have already poured cold water on the prospect of constitutional… Read more »

Last edited 17 days ago by SundanceKid
SundanceKid
SundanceKid
17 days ago
Reply to  Arwyn

The man is full of contradictions and UK-wide proposals for reforming the union among Labour members have apparently gone down like a lead balloon, so I’m not sure why he is saying that Labour’s “vision” for the union is one that everyone can “buy into”, because their “vision” is non-existent.

Last edited 17 days ago by SundanceKid
Arwyn
17 days ago
Reply to  SundanceKid

True. Let’s see how that plays out with Welsh Labour members and their voters.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
17 days ago

Da iawn. Chwaler hi. Ac fe godwn Gymru newydd o lwch yr hen ymerodraeth bwdr. Ymlaen mae Canaan!

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
17 days ago

Welsh Labour FM Mark Drakeford has to ask himself this question. Is this false United Kingdom worth saving, especially seeing the status quo means the continuation of this unequal British Union dominated by England. In my opinion. No. Let it die. Put Wales first for once.

hdavies15
hdavies15
17 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

All well and good but Drakeford is first and foremost a bureaucratic Unionist and tending to be a Loyalist too despite earlier declarations. So his idea of “putting Wales first” is to get it a slightly better deal from the UK Gov so that all his public sector spending is funded.

David Smith
David Smith
17 days ago

“I’ve got it! Radical federalism! 😎”.
*Slow clap* 👏👏👏

George Thomas
George Thomas
17 days ago

Liz Truss seems to be offering more anti-devolution politics, Keir Starmer doesn’t want to comment in case he loses votes in England and Mark Drakeford saying that Wales can stay in the UK and be a respected nation in our own right.

Being annoyed at Westminster is justified but not enough to persuade me independence is the answer, yet, but as long as those wishing for independence work on answers to the big questions and show they have real interest in building (welcoming, ambitious) communities in Wales then Westminster giving us managed decline in opposition will ease my fears.

Pete Cuthbert
Pete Cuthbert
17 days ago
Reply to  George Thomas

Whilst agreeing with almost everything said by fellow posters, I would wish to raise a question that does not seem to be discussed. If Wales were to become independent how would the economic integration that currently exists be ‘unstitched’? It strikes me that there would probably need to be a ‘free trade’ agreement or similar with Scotland (since they will probably escape first) and the EU to kick in the same day that London Control is switched off. An abandoned England, if still under Fascist control, would surely impose tariffs and red tape barriers on us out of spite. After… Read more »

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
17 days ago

We, the public of Cymru, now need to discuss our future. We can’t just dismiss the very real future that could hit the Union in the near future. We can’t just listen to those saying we’ll be useless on our own or the Union is great. We need to be prepared and even bold. Bold enough to pre-empt other developments – and run with independence ourselves.

HywelE3
HywelE3
17 days ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

You’ve hit the nail on the head, Steve; the important word is DISCUSS.
How can we promote discussion with the wider audience in Wales when 90% of the population read newspapers and magazines owned and edited across the border.
This column is full of bright ideas, but how many readers in the wider Welsh audiences has it?
We need to press for devolution of broadcasting as a matter of great urgency and import so we can actually have a relevant discussion involving all sections of Welsh society.

Arwyn
17 days ago
Reply to  HywelE3

In the podcast, Drakeford is asked what is it that has made Welsh Labour so electorally successful. One of the points he lists is its activists, knocking doors and so on. If we want to win people over to independence then it’s that graft we need to put in. I can tell you now that Plaid needs more activists on the ground. The more members and the more active activists Plaid has, the better able the party is to contest seats. The more MP’s and MS’s Plaid has, the closer we get to independence.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
16 days ago
Reply to  Arwyn

Yes, the more discussions on doorsteps the better. I believe the independence organisations, Yes Cymru, Plaid, Gwlad etc all need to work together. Leaflets, door knocking activists, newspaper articles (even if the newspaper is owned by an organisation across the border – a big advertisment or well versed article could still be posted), TV broadcasts and local town hall discussions all need to be created. What our future could look like should be a major conversation throughout the nation.

Jay Sata
Jay Sata
17 days ago
Reply to  HywelE3

The reason 90% get their media from England is choice. Only 5% listen to Radio Wales and Welsh newspapers are in terminal decline. Wales has devolved broadcast but most of the population don’t care for the output.

HywelE3
HywelE3
16 days ago
Reply to  Jay Sata

Sorry to correct you, Jay, but broadcasting is NOT devolved to Cymru – hence the demand in the recent Select Committee that the responsibility be devolved, and the Committee not need trouble itself with it any more…
Until we are able to provide our citizens with a much wider choice of outlets, we will fail to reach enough people we can persuade that our cause is just, and in their interests to support…

Andy Williams
17 days ago
Reply to  HywelE3

I’m thinking of the National Newspaper in Wales, just folded

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
16 days ago
Reply to  HywelE3

I whole heartedly agree.

Wynn
Wynn
17 days ago

I’m for full independence for Scotland and for Wales. I have to say I find the situation in Wales at the moment very, very exciting. It’s time for our nations to reach our full potential unfettered by the sort of poor fiscal management we have had to endure together over the whole course of my lifetime. Arwyn, you say you are ‘open to a progressive replacement’ well there was an interesting perspective on this subject published on a very unionist website ‘labourhame’ in an article written by Mark Lazarowicz, a past MP and former chair of the Scottish Labour Party.… Read more »

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
17 days ago

Drakeford is wrong. Firstly, polls over the last year and a half put support for independence at around 30 – 35%. That’s around 1 in 3 people. Around a decade ago, it was only around 1 in 10. And it is only going to increase further, particularly amongst the younger generation. Secondly, UK Labour members have already expressed opposition to a UK-wide consultation on “reforming” the union. So, constitutional reform is not happening under Labour’s watch either. In Scotland, Labour are teaming up with the Tories to try to keep the SNP out. Not sure what Drakeford is going on… Read more »

Last edited 17 days ago by SundanceKid
Frank
Frank
17 days ago

We’d be laughing kit bags if we were paid for all the stolen coal, gold, copper, slate, lead, water etc.

Quornby
Quornby
17 days ago

I’ll keep taking that “risk” Mark…… until I die. God Speed our Welsh state.

The original mark
The original mark
17 days ago

I’m sure I left a comment on this story, wonder where it’s gone?

Kenneth Vivian
Kenneth Vivian
16 days ago

As Gerallt observed, the Welsh seem to enjoy defeats more than victories which is why the key of A minor dominated our songs and poems throughout history. Drakeford must thank the lord we are a musical nation.

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