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Majority of Leave voters don’t think Brexit should be used to remove Wales’ devolved powers

22 Feb 2022 3 minutes Read
Picture on the right by Richard Szwejkowski (CC BY-SA 2.0).

A majority of Leave voters in Wales believe that Brexit should not be used to remove powers from the Senedd, according to findings from researchers at Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre.

Writing in a British Politics after Brexit report for the UK in a Changing Europe initiative, the academics used Welsh Election Study (WES) data to show that 52% of Leave voters rejected the suggestion that “the UK Government is right to remove powers from the Senedd if it is necessary to maximise Brexit benefits”.

There was also opposition to using Brexit to undermine devolution among 88% of Remain voters, and 71% of the Welsh electorate as a whole.

A majority of Welsh Leave voters reject any diminution of devolved powers

The data confirm that the Leave vote in Wales in the 2016 referendum was not fundamentally linked to scepticism over devolution, according to the authors Richard Wyn Jones, Jac Larner and Daniel Wincott.

This finding – that voting Leave and ‘devo-scepticism’ are not interlinked – was replicated at last year’s Senedd elections, where anti-devolution parties collapsed without generating an equal-sized increase in vote share for the Conservatives, they said.

Previous WES findings demonstrated that Welsh Labour succeeded in holding on to a larger than anticipated share of its own Leave voters.

‘Misjudged’

Richard Wyn Jones commented: “Data collected by the 2021 Welsh Election Study shows that a substantial majority of the Welsh electorate reject any undermining of devolved powers in the name of Brexit. This view is shared even by a majority of Welsh Leave voters.

“This raises far-reaching questions for the Welsh Conservatives as they adopt an increasingly ‘devo-sceptic’ stance. While such a stance may well be popular with their own activist base and core support, it is in danger of alienating them further from floating voters as well as majority opinion in Wales.”

Noting that the election “proved a disappointment for Conservatives,” Jac M. Larner, Richard Wyn Jones, and Daniel Wincot’s chapter in British Politics after Brexit suggests that Conservatives may have “misjudged the constitutional attitudes of their target voters”.

“Nonetheless, the Conservatives remain committed to the view that devolved competences must be reduced to deliver on their wider agenda. They also assume that, if forced to choose between devolution and a union rebuilt in the Brexiters’ own image, the Welsh electorate will inevitably settle for the latter.

“Equally plausible is that by forcing this choice, an even larger section of the electorate will conclude that it is time to give up on the union.

“This in turn would force Welsh Labour to push for even more far-reaching autonomy or risk leaving a flank open for Plaid Cymru to exploit. Doubtless, the Conservatives would enjoy the resulting discomfort but viewed through the lens of statecraft this appears to represent a substantial and totally unnecessary gamble.”

Further devolution graph

The study also notes that more powers for Wales is by far the most popular constitutional preference in Wales.

“Despite the increased focus on both independence and abolition, and perhaps uniquely among the constituent countries of the UK, Wales has firmly
embraced what in the nineteenth century was known as home rule,” it says.

“Broadly speaking, its citizens like devolution and want more of it, while eschewing outright separation (see Figure 1). It is a position which Welsh Labour — under
its popular leader Mark Drakeford — encapsulates nicely.

“The challenge for Labour is that it is unclear if its position will remain sustainable in future.”


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Grayham Jones
3 months ago

The people in wales that voted leave are a disgrace to wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 we in wales was having £550 million pounds from the EU
Now we are having £250 million pounds from the English government we in wales are now losing more £340
Million pounds in Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Erisian
Erisian
3 months ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

In reality, we may not even get that much

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
3 months ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

So 54% of the people in Waled are a disgrace? Is that right Graham? Very persuasive argument there! 😉

Cynan
Cynan
2 months ago
Reply to  Dai Rob

Yes absolutely. A total disgrace. Also not 54% voted leave. 54% of those who voted, voted leave. In reality about 35% of the country voted leave and are an absolute disgrace

hdavies15
hdavies15
3 months ago

Frankly I’m delighted to read of these findings. Leavers have been tainted for too long as being solely jingoistic Anglo Brit supremacists and Welshie sycophants when that was not the case. Many of us disliked the EU for many of the reasons we disliked the UK and saw it as step 1 out of centralised power towards self government. The need to move quickly towards step 2 has been reinforced by the increasingly manic, or maniacal, antics of the current London regime and I don’t see that easing in the near future.

Nottabott
Nottabott
3 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

You are tainted, you were told what would happen, voted it, and it happened, no use trying to act like you expected something else

CJPh
CJPh
3 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

This attempt to shore up a flash-in-the-historic-pan ‘Britishness’ will fail. You will be told you’re evil by both the “ddduh brexit be baaad” crowd and the “duuuh europe be eevil” crowds. Simple fact is that Wales had no hope of gaining her freedom whilst the UK remained in the EU. Now, I’d like to be in the EU, but as an independent Wales. Happy for you to disagreeand I’m sure your position is convincing. I’d like you to know that you aren’t alone in having voted leave And support indy. I bet our numbers aren’t as small as you’d think… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by CJPh
I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
2 months ago
Reply to  CJPh

Tend to agree, though a fan (small f) of EU it does have some negative aspects. Anyway, we will all need to stick together for Indy.

Cynan
Cynan
2 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

The taint is still there. Watching the sophistic somersaults trying to reclaim some honour is entertaining, but ultimately changes nothing.

Last edited 2 months ago by Cynan
CJPh
CJPh
2 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

Please point out the sophistry here – wanted brexit, don’t want UK. Brexit done, UK next. Is that lacking enough in “acrobatics” for you? Do you genuinely believe that Wales would come close to independence if the UK remained part of the EU? Use of terms like “taint” and “honour” aren’t at all helpful, especially since your comment seems to indicate you don’t understand the rationale behind Mr Davies’ decision (as well as, as the data suggests, the majority of our nation). But you can call us tainted if you want – we’ll carry on without you and the rest… Read more »

Kiosk
Kiosk
3 months ago

Boris announced yesterday that Putin believes that Ukraine has no real right to exist as a sovereign, independent country.

Mmmm. So whats the difference between Putin and Ukraine, and Boris and Wales?

Would any Welsh tories care to give me an answer please?

hdavies15
hdavies15
3 months ago
Reply to  Kiosk

That is beyond their intellectual capacity.

Cynan
Cynan
2 months ago
Reply to  Kiosk

Boris is a hypocrite

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
2 months ago
Reply to  Kiosk

Boris is always right!

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
3 months ago

The fact that they are deliberately ignoring the fact that around 70% of last years Senedd votes went to left wing pro devolution parties is a deliberate ploy by the English to try and wipe out our countries democracy. They know we support devolution, they know we have had tweo referendums to validate this and yet they pretend that support doesn’t exist because we are 2nd class to them. We are being treated like 2nd class citizens in our own country by another country. Pure colonialism and disrespect.How dare they do this.

John Davis
John Davis
3 months ago

Like it or not Wales voted to leave the EU. Scotland and Northern Ireland did not, and you do have to wonder what they saw that Wales voters missed. Perhaps it was the irrational, outdated and unrealistic (unless you aspire to be North Korea) view of independence being pushed by a small group of fanatical Westminster Tory Leave elite that raised warning flags for them. Or maybe they just did some proper research instead of relying on Johnson and Cummings soundbites, the two factional leaders who thought Brexit was career-enhancing for one, and just a game to be played for… Read more »

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
3 months ago
Reply to  John Davis

I think it has more to do with the media not being devolved here while it is in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Cynan
Cynan
2 months ago
Reply to  John Davis

Wales did not vote to leave the EU. About 36% of people IN Wales eligible to vote, voted to leave the EU.

G Horton-Jones
G Horton-Jones
3 months ago

Let’s face it to the Borisites we are a colony that voted in a Labour government

There is no difference to the way the Russians treated Crimea and their intentions in the Ukraine

Boris and Putin are simply acting as Hitler did with. Chechoslovakia and then elsewhere

Regrettably the people will pay the price until life passes them into history

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
3 months ago

Devolution was always going to be under threat, once Brexit was thought of as complete by the English nationalists. They do not see the backing of devolution by the Welsh public, as deluded by their feelings of superiority. They seek to dictate and it will lead to the break-up of the UK.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

Goody!

Richard
Richard
3 months ago

This research offers some thought for each political party. Plaid the ‘ best opposition party in these islands ‘ always the bridesmaid but never the bride have some thinking 🤔 to do. Some interesting pathways for which they will have to Choose…….without alienating their core bedrock. Liberals of all sorts just need to pick and option and identify with it – are they the new Devo Max Party ? They always said they were but just didn’t do much for Wales when in coalition with the Tories – and paid the price…in Wales and Cornwall… The Conservatives who moved so… Read more »

Cynan
Cynan
2 months ago

Perhaps the idiots should have thought about that before they voted leave. Yet they assured us they knew what they voted for. Seems not

CJPh
CJPh
2 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

*village votes for ham sandwiches to be served at the fete instead of egg and cress. A week later, a nuclear bomb is detonated nearby* Cynan: “see, told you egg and cress was better”.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
2 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

European court decides against Poland and Hungary in that EU funds can be witheld due to said countries not toeing EU line. This could happen to Cymru also vis a vis control of immigration for cultural reasons. Here is one case where our “idiots” have a point?

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
2 months ago

I always thought Brexiteers in Wales knew what they were voting for when they aided a Conservative party that previously destroyed Wales hopes & aspirations. Well they kept reminding us during the 2016 referenda. Surely they didn’t vote not understanding the consequences of dealing with the Devil? Anyway, the damage is done. But they must accept the reality that by voting for Brexit embraced our past & present abuser. They rejected the EU fiscal hand of friendship for a Conservative chokehold. Voters in Wales chose to aid a far-right Tory party and their UKIP/Brexit failed Conservative cohorts, who in their… Read more »

CJPh
CJPh
2 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Ma na fwy Cymry nag ‘Y Cymro’, cofia. Sdim hawl da ti i mynnu unrhywbeth gan unrhywun ond am ein gwleidyddon. Ma digon ohonom sy’n disgwl tu hwnt ir gem Brydeinig yma Yr wyt ti ag hanner y mudiad dal yn mynnu chwarae – ffordd hollol myopic sydd wedi ein cadw rhag ein rhyddid ers degawdau. Mae hwn yn syml iawn; galle Cymru fyth enill ein rhyddid tra fo’r DU yn rhan or UE, gyda veto oddi wrth Sbaen, Ffrainc ac unrhyw cenedl sydd a grwp o sepratistiad fel sydd yma. Ma rhan fwyaf helaeth ohonom sy moyn Cymru annibynnol… Read more »

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