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It ‘would be absurd to rule out independence’, says Mark Drakeford

20 Oct 2021 5 minutes Read
YesCymru picture by Lluniau Lleucu. Mark Drakeford. Picture by the Welsh Government.

It “would be absurd” to “rule out independence”, Mark Drakeford has said

The First Minister made the comments in the Senedd while debating the Constitutional Commission the Welsh Government has set up to consider Wales’ future.

Drakeford was asked by Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price about whether the commission would look at Welsh independence as part of its work.

He replied that it will “look at the whole suite of potential constitutional futures for Wales” and that it would “certainly allow for independence to be considered as one of these options”.

But he added that he would argue that “entrenched devolution in a successful United Kingdom is the best constitution for Wales.”

Dr Rowan Williams and Professor Laura McAllister will chair the commission and the aim, according to the Welsh Government, will be to develop options for fundamental reform of the constitutional structures of the UK and how it can best improve outcomes for the people of Wales.

Professor McAllister has said that all options would be in the table – including independence.

During a debate in the Senedd, Adam Price said: “Among its objectives, the commission is, and I quote: ‘To consider and develop all progressive principal options to strengthen Welsh democracy’.

“Can you confirm that that will include, for the very first time in the case of an officially established body, serious and substantive work on Welsh independence?”

‘Leading experts’ 

Mark Drakeford said: “It is hard to think of any Welsh figure who commands greater respect – not simply in Wales, but on the world stage – than Dr Rowan Williams. In Professor Laura McAllister, we have one of the leading experts on the subject matter that the commission will have at its heart.

“I can certainly confirm that, as Professor McAllister has said today, the commission will look at the whole suite of potential constitutional futures for Wales. The terms of reference for the commission certainly allow for independence to be considered as one of these options.

“They allow for any person who has a view as to how Wales’s constitutional future should best be shaped to come to the commission to make their case for that. It would be absurd and I think that that was the word that Professor McAllister used – to rule out independence.

“But, nothing else is ruled out either. If I have the opportunity, I will certainly give my evidence to the commission that entrenched devolution in a successful United Kingdom is the best constitution for Wales.

“But, Plaid Cymru – and I welcome very much what Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson said about constructive engagement and making every use of the opportunity that it presents will be able to set out its stall for a different constitutional future.”

Adam Price replied: ” I’m sure that the First Minister wouldn’t mind me saying that the implicit confirmation by a Welsh Labour Government that independence, though clearly not your favoured option, can be considered a progressive option, will be seen by many in the independence movement as a significant milestone. We do indeed, on our side, look forward to engaging constructively with the commission.

” Whatever the report in the end concludes whether it supports your preferred future, First Minister, of radical federalism, or our alternative future of independence – is not the commission’s starting point as important as its end point, in this sense?

“Because it signifies a new, shared determination that we shouldn’t wait for our constitutional future to be chosen for us by default by decisions in Westminster or, indeed, developments elsewhere in these islands, but that we should decide for ourselves; that we should neither be on the sidelines nor in the shadows of someone else’s deliberations, but that we should place Wales front and centre of our own debate.”

‘Future into our own hands’ 

Mark Drakeford said: “Well, Llywydd, I certainly agree that that is exactly the purpose of the commission: to take our future into our own hands. I think that this is a particularly important moment for us to do that. During this Senedd term, while we are all sitting here, it is very likely that there will be a further referendum on independence in Scotland.

“I don’t often quote Iain Duncan Smith here, Llywydd – [Laughter.] – but I’ll make an exception today. I think that he said to the Conservative Party conference that the future of Northern Ireland was more uncertain today than at any time in the past, because of the impact of the Brexit decision and the uncertainties over the Northern Ireland protocol.

“The United Kingdom is in a fragile position, and it is very important that, as a responsible Government and as a responsible Senedd, we find a way of mapping out our own future in the turbulent times in which we live.

“Llywydd, can I say that I was very grateful to the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew R.T. Davies, for making a number of nominations for someone to sit on the commission?

“Because I want the commission to be something that anybody who has a view about Wales’s future and how best it can be secured, given the uncertain times in which we live, should feel confident that they can turn up to and make their case.”

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Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

The commission needs to be as unbiased as possible, laying out all the avenues for Wales clearly and in layman’s terms. The people of Wales should then decide for themselves the best route to be taken in the form of a referendum. Our future in our hands. As the article states, we can not wait for events to unfold in the rest of the UK. We must act now.

Sion Cwilt
Sion Cwilt
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

Such a commission would be utterly worthless should it show bias.

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

As admirable as this move is, and with the fragility of the UK needing to be addressed, whatever outcome we get in the final report will be meaningless, unless the Senedd make a promise to act on any recommendations, as we all know that Westminster is not going to move an inch from its present state. The current refusal to devolve justice and policing or even airport duty, show what state of mind Westminster holds. So, if the conclusion is radical change is needed, and Westminster still refuse to move an inch, will the Labour party have the will, let… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

I hope Vaughan Gething as economy minister is taking a serious and expert led search for a business plan for a viable self-sufficient independent Wales. One that takes an unblinkered appraisal of all the country’s strengths and weakness. Do we have sufficient experts, in tourism for instance? I personally advocate the return to well regulated purpose built short stay holiday accommodation as is exampled by the new Premier Inn in Porthmadog. The idea that train travel is both the means and the end of what is undoubtedly a golden egg in the eagle’s nest of attractions must tick the green… Read more »

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
1 month ago

I have mixed feelings about this Commission.

On the one hand, I really do not see the constitutional question as a technocratic decision. It boils down to a question as to who we trust to govern us according to our best interests and values — Westminster or a government answerable to our own electorate. That decision cannot be taken on our behalf by academics, economists or technocrats.

That said, if this Commission helps us all to focus on the issues and stimulate a broad debate over our future, so much the better.

Last edited 1 month ago by Cai Wogan Jones
Shan Morgain
1 month ago

I don’t look to the Commission to make a decision. I expect them to lay out the methods of handling each avenue, legally and economically.

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Shan Morgain

I am pretty sure that advising on pathways to achieve particular constitutional outcomes will not be central to the function of this Commission. They will likely follow the model of the Kilbrandon Commission in the late 1960s. Examining a menu of options, setting out pros and cons, and ultimately making recommendations.

Arwyn
Arwyn
1 month ago

I have felt very dubious about Labour’s commission. I’m concerned that Labour will influence the outcome such that their own freshly dusted off policy of Home Rule (for how long was that at the back of the shelf?) is given the greatest emphasis. There is a definite change in tone from the first minister but I shall reserve judgement until we see the final result. I will, like my party, engage constructively with it and give my own two pence worth to the process. I will say that Laura McAllister brings a lot of credibility to the process and I’m… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Arwyn
Shan Morgain
1 month ago

A very welcome dignity in approaching the issues. So different to Westminster. Serious too, no clowning to distract from lies. So very glad to live under Welsh government.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
1 month ago

At a time when the Conservatives are trying, and failing, to deliver their oft aborted UK Bill of Rights again we need this voice for Wales. Michael Gove spent two years of the Cameron government and produced only a title which was immediately rejected by parliamentary lawyers as unconstitutional. Given that they have moved on to a complete disregard for English and International law these are perilous times for an uncodified constitution. Wales is seeing powers stolen by Westminster daily and it is no longer a case of accepting the status quo. If we are not to be disempowered as… Read more »

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago

If you awoke from a year long sleep, you would hardly believe what you were hearing.
Such is the gradual change over the months of Tory dictatorship, which has seen
Labour becoming Plaid lite, maybe as a result of its members more radical stance.
But should we succeed in pushing Indy through, perhaps FM Drakeford is the guy to steer things? Certainly, my personal attitude to Drakey, has also evolved to a more favourable one. Keep pushing!

Last edited 1 month ago by j humphrys
Vivek
Vivek
1 month ago
Reply to  j humphrys

As a Plaid member myself, I have a very favourable view of Mark Drakeford. As a former Professor of Social Policy at Cardiff University, he obviously knows the academic side of issues, but he also has keen political acumen and obviously cares about Wales’ future. And he’s a republican. What is not to like about him? Welsh Labour are very lucky to have him as their leader.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

Equally absurd would be if Scotland became independent and Wales had no contingency plan. The English Conservative & Labour parties cannot bury devolution or ignore Wales anymore. We matter too. The Tories fear Welsh democracy. The very idea of Wales controlling its own future. Their agenda from the start was to dissolve politically Wales turning it into a mere region en par with an English county. To demote & demean. To take away any confidence we’ve gained as a country & people with a political slap in the face. Know your place, they say. The Tories use Britishness, but in… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Y Cymro
Grayham Jones
1 month ago

The Labour Party got to get in the real world independence is the only way forward for wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 it’s time for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 we in wales have got to stop being little Englanders and be proud to be welsh start fighting for your children and grandchildren future in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago

But alas Drakeford himself made clear in his next sentence that in his submission to the commission he’ll argue strongly for Wales remaining part of the union. The fact of the matter is that Mark Drakeford has never uttered a word in favour of welsh indy in his entire life and he repeatedly attacked welsh independence during the recent senedd campaign. And if we do get a referendum on welsh independence be assured drakeford will campaign vigourously for a no vote

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