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Mark Drakeford says he is ‘Welsh first and British next’ but that UK is ‘great insurance policy’

14 Oct 2022 4 minute read
First minister of Wales Mark Drakeford during the Labour Party Conference at the ACC Liverpool. Picture by Peter Byrne / PA

The First Minister has said that he is “Welsh first and British next” but that the UK is a “great insurance policy” for Wales to have.

During a visit to Dublin, Mark Drakeford said that he did not think that an independent Wales would be “so poor” but that he preferred to pool resources with the others nations of the UK.

His comments come after he said yesterday that he won’t “ever believe” that independence is the right course of action for Wales.

Speaking in Dublin he told the Irish Times that his own case for the UK was “not a sentimental one”.

“I’m Welsh first and British next,” he said. “I have never stated that Wales could not be independent if the people in Wales wanted it.

“I never signed up to the idea that we would be so poor. I want to be able to articulate that positive case for the current arrangements we have of strengthened devolution.

“The case is that it is a great insurance policy that we pool our resources and share the rewards where it is necessary at the UK level.”

The First Minister added that Wales wants “powerful and entrenched devolution” but “we don’t need a Welsh army or navy or air force”.

“We don’t believe that Wales needs a seat at the United Nations,” he said.

‘Sorrow’

At the same time, however, he said that decisions taken by the UK Government had made Wales poorer.

The country will be £1.1 billion (€1.3 billion) worse off this year because money it could have expected through the EU’s rural development funds has not been replaced by the UK Government, he said.

He also said that he “deeply regrets” Wales no longer being part of a series of EU-operated programmes including the Erasmus+, which allows for student exchanges across Europe, and the Horizon science collaboration programme.

“We found such a strength in people’s emotional commitment to the work they had done through 20 years of investment through the European Union,” he said.

“Now they could see it just being snatched away in a way that makes no sense to them at all. There were choices that could have been made that the post-EU relationship could have been designed in such a way that we didn’t lose out on so many things.

“Our great sorrow is that so many of those opportunities were squandered.”

Asked why people voted for Brexit in Wales, he said that the EU constituted the status quo, he said, “and the status quo wasn’t working for them”.

“Many of the reasons had nothing to do directly with what was on the ballot paper,” he said. “We had six years of austerity.”

‘Only way’

Yesterday Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price, whose party is in a co-operation agreement with the Welsh Government at the Senedd, criticised Mark Drakeford’s comments on independence.

Adam Price said that Mark Drakeford was “wrong” to say that independence would never be the answer to Wales’ problems.

“Waking up to this news must be a devastating blow to the 40% of Labour voters who support independence,” he said.

“Being wedded to a Union that allows the destructive streak of Conservatism to wreak havoc on Welsh communities will never serve Wales well, no more than it has served the people of Ireland.

“Independence is the only way that we can create a fairer, greener Cymru for all. Independence would not only be socially just but also economically viable, as Plaid Cymru’s recently commissioned research shows.

“The First Minister is wrong. All decisions affecting Wales should be made in Wales and only way to achieve this is independence.”


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George Atkinson
George Atkinson
1 month ago

In other words, he pretends he is Welsh while supporting the occupation of the country he pretends he is patriotic to.

George Atkinson
George Atkinson
1 month ago

This is why I will never vote for his party. Funny how he spouts this excrement out while in Ireland and not here.Tell us directly to our faces that you are too inept to run a country.

Cawr
Cawr
1 month ago

I’m beginning to think he hit his head at some point…..multiple times

WilliamsG
WilliamsG
1 month ago

The only thing the Union ensures is that we are eternally poor

Kenneth Vivian
Kenneth Vivian
1 month ago
Reply to  WilliamsG

Welsh demands for fair shares have always been voted down by demands made by English numbers
for even bigger shares. Such is the nature Drakeford’s UK democracy

Carol James
Carol James
1 month ago

My grandfather fought in World War One and always said you have to know the true intentions of the people next to you in the trench. When I hear Drakeford’s utterances I wonder what is really going through this his mind as ultimately you can’t serve two masters.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

I’ve long been of the opinion that Mark Drakeford IS in favour of independence. Everything he says here, apart from the not wanting independence part, points to it. He is just having to tread carefully with the Labour voter base but surely knows that the only way to stop the power grabs, the underfunding, the theft of our resources, the erosion of our identity and language and all round general abuse and financial intimidation of our country is to remove the hand of Empire control completely as the country he was visiting has done. We must replicate Ireland totally.

Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
1 month ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Yeah. We can’t judge his thoughts. Only his actions. Done with him and his party

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

He either is a genuinely committed unionist or he feels Wales just isn’t ready to be independent yet. Either way, he keeps banging on about a utopian version of the union that does not, never has and never will exist. Why does he do this? Does he not understand political reality? England’s population is more than 5.3 times the combined population of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and historically, has always been the dominant “partner”, with a long history of bullying and suppression in achieving its’ objectives. How can he truly believe that radical federalism can even be remotely possible… Read more »

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago
Reply to  SundanceKid

Well we may soon get to see what a Drakeford/Starmer relationship looks like. I don’t believe demands for more devolution will quieten down and Starmer needs to take a lesson from the Labour/Plaid arrangement here and not dismiss working with the SNP/Plaid (and the yellow/orange don’t know who they are party) as he may need them to form a strong Tory busting coalition. I believe MD is tactically treading a fine line to close the chasm between Plaid and Labour voters to make us ready and united for our future independence. It is perhaps a naive hope based in fantasy.… Read more »

Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
1 month ago

Yes, like insurance policies they promise you the world, they are on you like a tonne of bricks if you miss a payment, but when you try to get something out of it you have to crawl along hot coals, only to discover you are mysteriously “not covered” for your particular needs. I respected MD up until this point. He has done a lot of good work and is far preferable to the donkeys in Westminster. But now our paths diverge. Plaid need to get their act together now. They are our ONLY option to escape the wreck of HMS… Read more »

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

I do find it odd that he describes the UK as an insurance policy when he knows it won’t pay out when we need it and we still pay the premiums into it.

CJPh
CJPh
1 month ago

To say all this anywhere is beyond ignorant, but in IRELAND? What, does he expect a cookie from the ‘better Celts. who CAN AND HAVE become more prosperous since leaving the Union? Vote out this simpleton, Cardiff West. He thinks you’re all incapable, begging bowl-hugging morons. Projection at its finest.

Doctor Trousers
1 month ago

I don’t think there’s anything too mysterious about Mark Drakeford’s values, and I don’t believe he’s secretly pro-independence. I think he believes exactly what he says he believes, which is admittedly admirable. He has fairly straightforward, old fashioned labour values. It’s just that those values seem like a deviation from the norm in comparison to westminster labour. Let’s not forget that home rule for the constituent nations of Britain was a core, founding principle of the labour party, and remained in their manifesto until after world war 2. It’s westminster labour who have drifted further and further away from their… Read more »

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
1 month ago

An insurance policy? This means Mark Drakeford doesn’t trust the Welsh people to successfully run their own economy. This is an appalling statement for a leader of our country to make.

Ihumphrys
Ihumphrys
1 month ago

Insurance policy! In a union very near economic collapse on TWO occasion within six days, and Bank Of England having to buy government bonds; their OWN bonds!
That’s what you get from having a sociology proff. (is he a Proff?) in charge (not) of a country. We need someone who is not a doormat, and with a grasp of economics, please.

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

Is this the same insurance policy, that when it came to Westminster paying for coal tip removal they said NO, not just no, but also, pay for it yourself. When have we ever had a payout? God knows we have paid in , more than our share in lost lives alone. Time to move on Mr Drakeford.

R W
R W
1 month ago

With Westminster refusing to pay Wales its rightful dues on a regular basis, we must be paying for the worst insurance policy in the history of the world!!! Drakeford doesn’t half talk a load of codswallop in trying to defend this rotten union he’s so devoted to. I can only assume that he must be addicted to this illogical form of self-harm.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago

How many times? The rose-spectacled version of the union does not exist and never has! Can he not see this for himself?!

Quornby
Quornby
1 month ago

IF we were equal….. But we are not. Everyone knows that. We are a colony.

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
1 month ago

Plaid and Adam Price need to get on with worrying about their own party rather than hoping another party will get them what they want. The 40% of Labour supporters that Price mentions do not want independence- if they did they would be Plaid supporters They just want a Labour UK Govt which looks like is going to happen. Price needs to rethink his love in with Welsh Labour because it looks like MD has played him like a fiddle LOL

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
1 month ago

So you think the UK is a good insurance policy Mr Drakeford ? With the disastrous decision to leave the European Single market and customs union, this has had a disastrous effect on the economies of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, if not also environmentally. Not to mention reason events with money wasting mini-budgets, falling currency, minister sackings etc. If I were looking for an insurance I would not choose a company that operated as the UK. I would look to a good reliable company such as the European Union, that has always been there to help Wales grow its… Read more »

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