Plaid Cymru MS suggests ‘prominent’ Labour figures could back independence
A Plaid Cymru MS has suggested that “prominent” Labour figures could back Welsh independence.
Rhys ab Owen, the pro-independence party’s Senedd member for South Wales Central, said it could happen once they realise that Westminster won’t move towards a federal Britain.
He pointed to the Conservative government in Westminster “trying to claw power back” from the Senedd, and argued that independence is the next “logical step” for Wales. He added that he could see the Labour Party “playing a role” in that.
The First Minister Mark Drakeford has argued for a federal UK where more power is devolved to Wales, but has been repeatedly rebuffed by Boris Johnson’s government.
Drakeford has also argued that it would be “would be absurd” to “rule out independence” in reference to a Constitutional Commission the Welsh Government has set up to consider Wales’ future.
Rhys ab Owen told the Express: “You can see the tension there. With the Labour Party in Wales wanting more power and the Conservative Party in Westminster definitely not going to give more power and actually trying to claw power back.
“So, you could foresee the strong possibility of some prominent people within the Labour Party actually making that final leap then from a federal Britain, saying ‘well actually we can’t do this, this is not possible because of various issues.
“The logical step then is independence, so you can see then the Labour Party playing a role in that within Wales.”
Rhys ab Owen also argued that Wales’ experience during the pandemic has strengthened the case for independence.
He said: “For example, when Wales went into firebreak [lockdown] a fortnight before England in the Autumn of last year, the Westminster Government refused to extend furlough at that point.
“When England went into a firebreak a fortnight afterwards, furlough was extended straight away.
“So, you know they haven’t treated us well during the pandemic and quite rightly the pandemic has stoked a lot of the feelings.
“Compared to how the Welsh Government has handled it – they’ve handled it far better than the Westminster Government.
“Certainly, that’s the perception by many in Wales.
“Well, I’m sure nobody in England had heard of Mark Drakeford before COVID, he wasn’t that well-known in Wales.
“But now, some opinion polls have that people know him more than Boris Johnson even, that’s never been true before in the history of devolution in Wales.”
Rhys ab Owen said that an independent Wales could be stronger economically, adding: “The motives for me personally, I genuinely believe Wales would be a stronger country, I genuinely believe it would be better for the people of Wales if we were independent.
“Now a lot of people would point out the fact that well you know, ‘you’re too poor to be independent’.
“I don’t believe that. I believe our economy might not be very strong, but a lot of that’s to do with the fact that we’re being governed from Westminster.
“Wales is a footnote at best when it comes to stuff from Westminster, we’re largely forgotten, we’re largely ignored.
“So, I believe things being decided in Wales for the people of Wales would improve the lives of people in Wales.”