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Johnson as Prime Minister makes Welsh independence ‘a question of when not if’

21 Jul 2019 4 minute read
Boris Johnson. Picture by Chatham House (CC BY 2.0)

It’s simply a matter of time before the people of Wales choose to become an independent nation if Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister of the UK next week, according to Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price.

The result of the Tory ­leadership race between Johnson and Jeremy Hunt is due to be announced on ­Tuesday, with Johnson likely to win with a landslide victory.

However, his willingness to consider a No Deal Brexit on October 31st means he could face an immediate vote of no confidence in Westminster and a General Election after the current Prime Minister Theresa May stands down on Wednesday.

The Tories have already been accused this week by one of its own MPs, Aberconwy’s Guto Bebb, and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard of “English nationalism”.

Adam Price added that a Johnson premiership would “wreak unimaginable damage on Wales and Scotland, risking thousands of jobs and crucial investment in our communities.” He argued that people will only tolerate so much before choosing a different path: independence.

“What the past three years have shown is that the land of milk and honey promised by the leaders of the Leave campaign was never possible,” he said, writing in the Scotsman newspaper.

“Indeed, any version of Brexit would wreak unimaginable damage on Wales and Scotland, risking thousands of jobs and crucial investment in our communities.

“That risk increases exponentially when the next British prime minister takes office next week. If, as expected, Boris Johnson does indeed become prime minister, the occupant of 10 Downing Street will be a man who relishes the prospect of a no deal Brexit.

“Let us be in no doubt that these are very serious times which require all of us to think very seriously and soberly about the kind of future we want for our nations.

“When Wales and Scotland do choose an independent future – and it is only a matter of when – I also happen to believe England would benefit from an equal partnership as much as our two countries.”

‘Moving on’

Adam Price’s comments come in the wake of Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford’s admission last week that his support for the British union is not “unconditional”.

The Plaid Cymru leader also referred to a leaked Cabinet Office memo authored by current de facto Deputy Prime Minister David Lidington, which conceded that people in Wales feel “failed” by Westminster.

Mr Price harshly criticised Mr Lidington’s response, which is to improve the branding of the few UK Government-funded infrastructure projects in Wales and Scotland, saying it exposes the “contempt” in which the British establishments holds Wales and Scotland.

“This ongoing Brexit psychodrama has put the UK on hold: standing still, rudderless, without effective government,” he said.

“It is fraying, not just at the edges, but right through its body politic. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is moving on.

“This won’t go on much longer. People can only take so much before they choose a different, better path. For both our countries, that path can only lead to one future: independence.

“It’s just a matter of a time, but it’s coming very, very quickly. It’s time the British establishment realised it.”

‘Row back’

Britain’s top pollster Sir John Curtice however said that to survive, Boris Johnson would likely “row back” on his “do or die” stance on leaving the EU.

He warned that without finding middle ground to win Parliament’s support, he would likely face one of the shortrest ever reigns as Prime Minister.

“If you make the assumption that no deal is not viable, it seems the only option to survive until the end of the year without facing the public in a general ­election would be to ­compromise his ­position on Europe,” John Curtice told the Daily Record.

“He’s certainly not given himself an awful lot of room for ­manoeuvre in terms of what he’s said during the campaign but doubtless there will be some rowing back.

“It’s looking as though he’ll struggle to deliver no deal, so if he doesn’t manage to do something with the EU that makes the hard-Brexiteer ERG group of Tories ­happier, he’s caught between a rock and a hard place.

“It’s impossible for the UK to leave with a new deal by the end of October, so, at best, by some miracle he might achieve some amendment of Theresa May’s deal.

“His advantage over May is that he will have a greater chance of convincing the ERG to ­swallow some amended version of it.”

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