Plaid Cymru leader accuses Keir Starmer of being ‘disinterested’ in Wales
The leader of Plaid Cymru has accused Sir Keir Starmer of being “disinterested” in Wales, calling for Labour to be serious about delivering constitutional change if it comes to power.
Rhun ap Iorwerth has set out his fears that a potential change of government in Westminster will not see the kind of powers handed to the Senedd that the people of Wales want, including over policing and justice.
His comments came ahead of a keynote speech at the Norwegian Church Arts Centre in Cardiff on Wednesday.
Mr ap Iorwerth will be using the speech to set out his party’s vision for the ‘journey to independence’.
It also follows the publication of the Independent Commission On The Constitutional Future Of Wales’s final report on January 18, which concluded that the status quo was not a viable foundation for the prosperity of the nation.
It instead said that three options – independence, a federal system, and enhancing devolution – were all viable constitutional alternatives.
Addressing the media at the Senedd, he said: “My challenge to Labour following the publication of this report is ‘show us that you’re serious about delivering this’.
“Within hours of this report being published Jo Stevens, shadow secretary of state for Wales, rubbished the idea of devolving policing.
“That doesn’t bode well for Labour showing that they are listening to the people of Wales.
“This is a report that came off the back of 15,000 engagements with people throughout Wales, an incredible democratic exercise and a wonderful cross-party engagement.”
He added: “I found it quite startling the disinterest Keir Starmer has shown in Wales, given that, I assume, he expects a decent number of Labour MPs to be returned from Wales.”
While Mr ap Iorwerth stressed they wanted to see a change of government in Westminster, he said it did not mean that the country’s problems would suddenly be addressed.
Unlike in Scotland, policing in Wales is overseen by the UK government rather than the devolved administration.
Last week, Ms Stevens promised a possible future Labour would look at “strengthening of devolution” but it would “not be looking at devolution of policing and justice”.
Mr ap Iorwerth also insisted that the cost-of-living crisis has only made the case for constitutional change “more urgent”.
He said: “Of course, a government has to deal with acute problems day to day to make sure that people are supported through a cost-of-living crisis.
“But you have to keep an eye on the future, on next week, next month, next year, the next decades.
“And what we have through the Independent Commission On The Constitutional Future Of Wales is the setting out of those steps that we need to take in order to help with those bread-and-butter issues.
“The Conservatives will tell you that it is vanity, why spend time on this?
“It’s about addressing the problems we have, it’s about holding government to account, helping people through the cost-of-living crisis and ultimately growing that stronger, fitter, fairer and more ambitious Wales.”
Asked if he considered federalism to be a viable option, he argued that England would be too large a partner and felt there was little appetite to split the country up.
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