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Independence support will rise unless Wales gets Home Rule, Drakeford tells Johnson after big election win

10 May 2021 3 minutes Read
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) in yesterday’s speech broadcast on BBC One. Mark Drakeford (right), picture by the Welsh Government.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has called for Home Rule for Wales after securing Labour’s joint ever largest win in Thursday’s Senedd elections.

The First Minister said that interest in independence would only rise in Wales unless the UK Government allowed the country a greater measure of self-government.

Welsh Labour’s manifesto for the election called for the federalisation of the UK, as well as the devolution of specific powers such as policing and justice.

The Conservatives, running on a platform of greater alignment with the UK Government, only won one additional constituency – while two parties promising to do away with the Welsh parliament altogether failed to pick up any seats.

Mark Drakeford told the Financial Times that the result had given Wales “breathing space” to reform the UK in a way that would give it “genuine stability”.

“We need Home Rule for Wales, more powers, a position where devolution cannot be pulled back by the whim of a prime minister,” Drakeford told the Financial Times.

He added that Johnson’s approach was “adding to the stresses and strains that are undoubtedly on the UK”.

He pointed to the UK Government’s Internal Market Act, which the Welsh Government has condemned as a “power grab”, as an example.

“The action by the UK government to take powers away from Wales . . . is a recipe to turn the interest in independence in Wales into something more fundamental,” he added.

‘Best chance’

On Saturday Boris Johnson wrote Mark Drakeford, inviting him to a meeting to discuss their shared challenges in tackling the Covid-19 crisis.

The Prime Minister said that he would be writing in similar terms to the First Minister of Scotland, and the First and deputy First Ministers of Northern Ireland.

In the letter, he said that he was looking forward “to working with you in the years ahead in a spirit of collaboration and mutual respect to serve the people of Wales”.

“We both share a belief in the enormous potential of our United Kingdom — both to be a force for good in the world and to be an engine of security and prosperity for its citizens here at home,” he said.

“People across the UK, and in particular, the people of Wales are best served when we work together.”

Mark Drakeford told the Guardian that he would tell the Prime Minister that he needed to work with the autonomous nations, rather than attempting to dictate to them.

“This really is a moment that the prime minister should seize to reset relationships across the United Kingdom, for a serious examination of the way in which we can create the machinery that will allow us to work together in the future,” Mark Drakeford said.

“Not an approach that thinks flying more union jacks at the tops of buildings, but proper, respectful relationships that recognise that sovereignty is now dispersed across four parliaments in which we choose to pool it for common purposes.

“That’s the sort of UK that I think will have the very best chance of surviving, because it will be a UK where people want to be here, rather than are instructed to be.”

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Michael Rieveley
Michael Rieveley
6 months ago

Mark Drakeford is once again seen to be offering the sort of sensible advice that has been a feature of his leadership as First Minister. Unfortunately there is next to no chance of PM Johnson taking any notice and by not doing so further alienating Wales and ultimately furthering the demand for independence.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
6 months ago

I agree, Mark Drakeford is an excellent leader. He has made very sensible and productive decisions and given fair and intelligent advice to the UK government without the ‘hot air’ rhetoric of other politicians. Sadly I think the Westminster / Whitehall establishment and especially the Conservative Party’s leadership are far too haughty to listen.

Steve PWH
Steve PWH
6 months ago

The problem with Westminster is they have they’re fingers in so many pies they forget what is staring them in the face.
Boris Johnson is so up himself he is only interested in, “whats in it for him and his “Eton Messers”
I would like to think a different Govt would have more to offer. However, that is a long way off.
People of Wales have to realise, the only way to security and Independence is to stand up to the historic bullying neighbour in whatever means possible.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
6 months ago

108 years ago the House of Lairds blocked the Home Rule for Scotland Act which had been passed by 204 to 159 in the Commons. Vested interests delayed it until the outbreak of WW1 so don’t get hopes up of another Home Rule Bill getting past the robber barons. We are likelier to declare war on France first.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
6 months ago

Home rule is not going to happen. Any further transfer of any power at all is not going to happen. Any increase in the respect or financial assistance to Cymru by Westminster is not going to happen. This is not doom and gloom it is the start of something new, Tory refusal is our green light our clear for lift-off. As a people we can give ourselves that power and make the future work for us.

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