The UK is “broken,” in “mortal danger” and could “fall apart,” former First Minister Carwyn Jones has said.
Speaking on Radio 5 Live, he was reacting to the news that the Brexit talks could break down over the UK Government’s plan for new legislation that will override key parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement.
“It’s crazy,” Carwyn Jones said. “It drives a coach and horses through the Northern Ireland peace process. It will probably usher in a united Ireland.
“If they botch this – the UK Government – the UK itself will start to fall apart. A bad Brexit means no UK at all. The UK itself will start to fall apart.
“We see independence growing in Scotland, support for independence in Wales has never been higher.
“The United Kingdom is not yet a hundred years old – the kind of tensions Brexit could unleash on the UK could put the UK in mortal danger.
“Which I regret – I don’t want to see the UK break up. I don’t see the UK as it currently works, frankly, but we can make it work and work better.”
He said that the UK was reformable but that power needed to be spread equally around the union.
“This idea that all parliamentary sovereignty comes from London – I don’t think these ideas work in the 21st century, if I’m honest,” he said. “I think we need a more equal partnership of nations to make the union work better.
“If Scotland leaves, what’s left doesn’t work. If people start thinking that the UK has no purpose, then they will not support the UK union.
“This is something to be avoided, we need change to make sure we all thrive together.”
The Internal Market bill, due to be published on Wednesday, is expected to force Wales and Scotland to accept whatever new standards on food, environment and animal welfare are agreed by the UK Government.
It is also expected to eliminate the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement in areas including state aid and Northern Ireland customs, according to the Financial Times.
A government source told the FT that the move could “clearly and consciously” undermine the agreement on Northern Ireland that Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed last October to avoid a return to a hard border in the region.
Plaid Cymru today described the bill as a “power grab” and said that the Labour Welsh Government must not co-operate with the Westminster Government on the Internal Market Bill until it “fundamentally” changes its approach.
Last week, Wales’ Brexit Minister Jeremy Miles had slammed as “completely unacceptable” the UK Government’s refusal to allow him to see their draft Internal Market Bill before it is published.
“I received no assurances we’d get it pre-publication – completely unacceptable for legislation with the potential to upend devolution settlement,” he said.
Scotland’s constitution minister, Mike Russell MSP, has also said that “the Scottish Government could not, and would not, accept any such plans. Nor would we co-operate with them.”