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Possibility of Welsh independence referendum after Senedd election discussed at UK Cabinet

29 Mar 2021 2 minutes Read
Boris Johnson at a Cabinet meeting. Picture by 10 Downing Street (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

The possibility that a Welsh independence referendum could be held after the Senedd election has been discussed at the UK Cabinet.

According to the Times newspaper, the UK Government is worried that if the Labour Welsh Government lose their grip on power at the Senedd election Plaid Cymru could demand a referendum as the price of a coalition.

A senior minister told the newspaper: “The electoral maths could well mean the only way Drakeford and Labour cling on to power is by reluctantly agreeing to a referendum. If Plaid insist on it, it’s going to be the only way they can govern with any working majority.”

According to the latest polls, Labour could lose eight constituency seats to the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru at the upcoming election, gaining one regional seat in compensation.

That would leave Labour on 22 seats and likely needing a deal with Plaid Cymru or the Conservatives o get anywhere near a majority.

Senior Tories told the Times they believe that Mark Drakeford, the Labour leader, will accept the demand for an independence referendum as the only way to hold onto power.

“The scenario leaves the UK government facing the prospect of two simultaneous demands for independence referendums,” the newspaper said.

A poll by Savanta ComRes for ITV News this month found that 39 per cent of Welsh people would vote ‘yes’ in a referendum, the highest ever.

‘Mandate’

Mark Drakeford was asked on the Andrew Marr show whether he would accept an independence referendum as the price of a coalition with Plaid Cymru.

He answered that Plaid Cymru would have to win the Senedd election outright before there would be a democratic mandate for a Welsh independence referendum.

Andrew Marr asked: “If after these elections you have the options or the necessity to go into a coalition government with Plaid, would you accept an independence referendum in Wales as the price for that?”

“I’ve always said myself that if a party that proposes such a referendum wins an election, then of course such a referendum should be held in Wales,” he said.

“But if you can’t win an election with that proposition, then I don’t think you have the democractic mandate to do so.”

Andrew Marr answered: “So that sounds like no!”

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