The new Labour leader Keir Starmer has been accused of “undermining” Wales’ First Minister on the question of whether Wales and Scotland should have the right to hold independence referenda.
Earlier this month, Mark Drakeford said that no UK Prime Minister has the right to stand in the way of an independence referendum in either Scotland or Wales if the people wanted one.
But speaking on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Keir Starmer refused to say whether he would back the SNP’s right to call another referendum if they win next year’s Holyrood elections.
“I’m not being hypothetical about what the future may hold,” he said. He also told Sky News that he thought “another independence referendum will be divisive”.
“I’m frustrated in a sense that in the middle of a pandemic we’ve got the SNP talking about independence, we’ve got the Tory party talking about Brexit when, in my view, they should be focusing on pulling together to defeat the virus,” he said.
“The Labour Party will be campaigning into May on the basis that what we don’t want is another divisive referendum.
“One of the things I think will take many, many people by surprise is that there hasn’t been a Cobra meeting for months.”
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said that by refusing to commit to another referendum on Scottish independence, Starmer’s comments “undermined democracy”.”
“By refusing to commit to the principle that if the SNP win the Holyrood Elections next May then the Scottish government should have the right to call for an independence referendum, Keir Starmer is completely undermining democracy.
“Not only has he reneged on his comments back in January that this is ‘a question for Scotland’, he is now refusing to answer a fundamental question about citizens’ rights to choose their own future.
“Keir Starmer’s evasive response also undermines Wales’s First Minister who is on the record as supporting allowing Wales and Scotland to hold an independence referendum should a pro-independence government win a mandate at the election.
“Ultimately, it is the UK Labour Leader that drives the party’s policy agenda. No amount of well-meaning comments from the Labour Party in Wales will change the fact that the party’s powerbase will always be in London. Labour will never deliver independence for Scotland or Wales.
“The only way of securing an independence referendum for Wales is for everyone who supports giving our nation a say on its future is to vote for a Plaid Cymru government next May.”