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‘Hostility to newcomers’ biggest handicap to Welsh independence, says Guardian columnist

01 May 2021 2 minutes Read
Simon Jenkins at Policy Fight Club by Policy Exchange

The “biggest handicap” to Welsh independence succeeding would be Wales’ “hostility to newcomers,” according to Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins.

In an opinion piece for the newspaper, he argues that an independent Wales is “perfectly feasible” but would depend on bringing “money and talent over the border”.

He compares Wales with Ireland and says that crucial to the success of the Irish economy after independence in the Republic was the move from “a fierce Anglophobia to a brash internationalism”.

“[Wales’] chief handicap may be similar to Ireland’s 100 years ago – the potential for an excluding hostility to newcomers. Nowhere in Wales is more than an hour from England,” he writes.

“An independent Wales is to me perfectly feasible, but it would depend not on England’s exchequer but on England’s tourists, retired people, remote workers, long-distance commuters, returning expatriates, second-homers rich and poor, anyone who can be induced to bring money and talent over the border into Britain’s loveliest country.

“As with the SNP, Welsh nationalism has to tear itself away from reactionary nostalgia to imitate Ireland’s hard-headed entrepreneurialism – or it will stay just a pipe-dream party.”

‘Project fear’

In the column he however praises Plaid Cymru’s recent Commission on Independence, calling its report “impressive”.

“It grappled in detail with a Welsh constitution, justice system, education, finance and foreign relations. It pointed out that there was nothing unusual in small state independence.

“There are seven smaller countries in the EU, and plenty such as Lithuania, Slovakia and Ireland which have complex, fiddly borders.

“As for relations with England, the report was openminded, examining confederal models from the EU to Benelux and Spain. It even proposed ‘an explanatory referendum’, in which various options are presented to the voters.”

He goes on to say: “To those set on independence, economics is immaterial. Project fear never works. When it comes to self-determination, sovereignty is all, as the cliches of Brexit attest.

“Besides, no model can forecast the galvanic impact on an economy of independence itself. As the Basques said of their quasi-autonomy from Spain: ‘We build the road as we travel.'”

 

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Howell williams
2 months ago

No were in wales is more than our from England. Try getting from chepstow to st David in your time line !

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
2 months ago

Exactly! You’ll get to Neath by road on a good day.

Gill Jones
Gill Jones
2 months ago

I hope that Simon Jenkins watched Have I got news for you’ last night – that might be answer he’s looking for.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
2 months ago

Returning expatriates I get, but could Simon Jenkins please explain what possible benefit (other than small amounts of disposable income) is to be provided to an independent Wales by tourists, retired people, remote workers, long-distance commuters, or owners of second homes?

hdavies15
hdavies15
2 months ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

That is the kind of blurred vision that assists in making the problem worse ! Smaller amounts of each of those would be O.K but to rely almost totally on those factors would be a recipe for assimilation as they all erode the core identity.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
2 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Yes, he’s saying, in effect, that an independent Wales couldn’t cope without England’s money and England’s settlers.

Michael
Michael
2 months ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

England’s money??🤡🤡must be kidding on account of what is owing Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 from vast amount of pillaging in the past and present!! Via Westminster and the Windsors’.

Bobby
Bobby
2 months ago

‘An independent Wales is to me perfectly feasible, but it would depend not on England’s exchequer but on England’s tourists, retired people, remote workers, long-distance commuters, returning expatriates, second-homers rich and poor, anyone who can be induced to bring money and talent over the border into Britain’s loveliest country.’ Jenkins, as he realises independence is feasible, gives off a whiff of fear for the future of his own second ‘home’ in Aberdyfi (Aberdovey?). Before he bought it it was a community hall, when there was still a community to use it. He knows the decline of the community is inextricably… Read more »

Andy Williams
2 months ago

When an English person complains about the immigrants coming to live in his or her area, i.e. Eastern Europeans, or South Asians he is a patriot. When a Welsh person complains, about the number of English people buying up second homes, or simply moving here, because he or she is concerned about the survival of his or her native tongue, that Welsh person is called a racist. Funny that.

Owen Williams
Owen Williams
2 months ago

I have a friend who moved here from the Southeast of England. She is becoming more Welsh than the Welsh. Learning the language and loving all things Welsh. Would put a few locals to shame. Brilliant!

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