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Pro-devolution but independence would make Wales ‘like Albania’ – what does the new Welsh Secretary think?

07 Jul 2022 4 minute read
Robert Buckland. Jeff Overs/BBC/PA

The new Welsh Secretary supports Welsh devolution but warned that independence would relegate Wales to “Albanian or Moldovan levels of prosperity”.

Nation.Cymru looked back through Sir Robert Buckland’s comments on Wales and devolution to ascertain his views as the Swindon MP takes on the role of leading the Wales Office.

In a speech given at Aberystwyth University in May of this year, he said that he respected the mandate that devolution had in Wales: “The 1997 referendum was followed by another on increased legislative powers in 2011, let’s not forget.”

However, he opposed the creation of a separate legal jurisdiction in Wales, an idea supported by the Welsh Government and their co-operation agreement partners Plaid Cymru, without another referendum to confirm that change.

“You can guess that I am deeply sceptical, indeed hostile to both ideas, and certainly think that if such changes are to be made, then a referendum should be held,” he said.

“These are issues that go beyond any five-year mandate that a political party might claim in a Senedd election.”

He also, perhaps surprisingly, suggested that the Senedd should have two chambers instead of one, an idea not floated during the current debate about Senedd reform.

“I am struck by the complete absence of any debate as to whether a bicameral legislative structure, rather than a unicameral one, would serve the legislative interests of the people of Wales better,” he said.

He also wrote last year in support of “radical devolution” for England in an opinion piece in the Times.

‘Patriotic’

However, he has also, as expected of a Welsh Conservative, opposed any suggestion that Wales could become independent. Writing in 2015, he warned that Welsh independence would make Wales a poorer country than it is now.

“Those who want to leave are divided as to their objectives and incoherent when it comes to their vision of the future,” he said.

“It is just the sort of incoherence that we see at the heart of Scottish or Welsh Nationalism, with its language of independence and belief in membership of supranational entities and then the sort of economic aspirations that can only come with free enterprise and lower taxes but with the type of economic policies that risk relegating Scotland and Wales to Albanian or Moldovan levels of prosperity.”

Of his own identity, however, he said that he was pro-European and supported remaining in the EU.

“As a Welshman but also a patriotic Briton, Geoffrey [Howe] instinctively understood that there was absolutely no contradiction between the various parts that made up the bigger picture,” he said.

“I am Welsh, British and European all at the same time, and there is no contradiction in this.  It’s something that we British Unionists have always had no problem with, which is why membership of the European Union contains no hang-ups for us, either.”

‘Right thing’

Speaking today, Robert Buckland said he was “here to help”, after taking up a post in Cabinet.

He also said that Boris Johnson would not have the authority to do “new” things in government.

The new Welsh Secretary defended his decision to join Mr Johnson’s new-look caretaker Cabinet, stressing that he felt the need to “help and serve”.

He said: “I felt it was right that I did that now. The issue about the Prime Minister and his character has been settled. He no longer has the confidence of the Conservative Party. He is resigning. That is right. But the business of government goes on. I’m here to help.”

Sir Robert said he would not have accepted a position on Wednesday, but the fate of the PM was “now dealt with”.

“He did the right thing and resigned. He changed the circumstances by rightly resigning,” he said.

Describing himself as a “team player”, Sir Robert said there was no such thing as an interim prime minister in the British system of government.

“This Prime Minister no longer has the political authority to do new things,” he said.

The new Secretary of State for Wales has declined to rule out running to replace Boris Johnson as Tory leader.

Robert Buckland said: “What I’m focusing on is values. I talk a lot about One Nation politics. I’ve always been a one nation Conservative, moderate Conservative.”

Pressed on whether he had leadership ambitions, he said: “I will support a One Nation candidate. I woke up this morning not expecting to be a Cabinet minister, so I’ve learnt to expect the unexpected in politics.”


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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
4 months ago

Buckland, from Wales and talking it down as a Tory would always do. Why wouldn’t an independent Wales be like Ireland? Well it would be but that’s not going to scare us off this preposterous notion of having our own country so he has to stoop low enough to insult two other countries both of which run their own show entirely without outside interference.

Richard
Richard
4 months ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Jeff your cousin who had started supporting Nation Cymru is donating to them. Are you going to follow to celebrate your wind fall mate .?

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
4 months ago

The Welsh secretary is hostile to Wales.

sturat
sturat
4 months ago

we need to build more houses in West Wales communities so local people can buy.
no one who is not local should buy those homes

sorry guys but that includes drakeford and price!

Argol fawr!
Argol fawr!
4 months ago

“…but independence would make Wales ‘like Albania’. RB

I think England’s government are doing a grand job of emulating Albania already in all honesty.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
4 months ago

Wrong Robert Buckland!! Wales would love to be Albania, a proud independent nation you insult with your derogaTory diatribe. You argue the benefits of Wales remaining part a British Union, but you forget this import fact. We have never been part of any so-called Union. We were annexed remember. Does Ukraine/Russia conflict ring a bell? Anglicised fool! This ball & chain has made Wales so impoverished 3/4 of our country qualified for European Structual Funding due to substandard infrastructure & poverty your beloved Whitehall caused with its deliberate agenda of resource rape, neglect, divide & conquer used as their blueprint… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Y Cymro
David
David
4 months ago

Spam SCAM!

David
David
4 months ago

Can Buckland name a country which has gained independence from the UK, who has asked to be reunited with the UK?

G Horton-Jones
G Horton-Jones
4 months ago

Who is this idiot

Simon Hart in the end realised that his place on Titanic was at an end and now a strange figure appears on the stern to see the ship going to the bottom
Wales does not need a Secretary of State the post is the ultimate anachronism as is the post of Prince of Wales

England would have to act like the Russians have done in Ukraine to hold onto the current illusion of a united kingdom happily controlled from London

Paul
Paul
4 months ago

Silly question ? Why is there still a Welsh secretary??
why does Scotland have the legal system devolved??

Paul
Paul
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Why is it ok for the legal/justice system to be devolved to Scotland and not Wales. Something wrong here

Kurt C
Kurt C
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul

It’s not devolved, it’s the legal system they have always had. Scotland formed a union, so kept some things as part of that agreement. Cymru is an occupied country with no choice. Just breadcrumbs if lucky.

Richard
Richard
4 months ago

Rob Buckland has always been a one nation pro devolution ,pro language, pro remain Tory in the style of his friend David Melding. Not a faction member / he has never been ‘ one of us ‘ hanging onto his accent and leftish views. He however has few real pals in the ‘welch ‘Tory set up his loner style just kept him as a Dyfed councillor. His new suites and smart glasses go down well on TV and I guess he and Mark Price or was it Adam Drakeford should continue with their private friendships . He will be keen… Read more »

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard

He will be a lone figure in the Tory party in terms of his views on Wales and the union.
The compromise era of David Melding is gone. The party no longer tolerates, never mind embraces devolution.

Richard
Richard
4 months ago
Reply to  SundanceKid

You have a point. A rare example within his party of a genuine lover of Wales, her culture and traditions who embraces respect & equality within a European dimension…

CJPh
CJPh
4 months ago

This is going to make me feel rather grubby – to be fair, this bloke is pointing to the perception that it is solely the collectivist Left that push Welsh and Scottish movements for indy. Indeed, many of the most prominent advocates certainly do support such policy positions, so one can see why he’d say what he said. The headline, therfore, is a little disingenuous. But he’s still wrong. Given our proximity to England, Ireland, the Nordic countries etc, the chances of our *pick you domestic economic measurement* falling to the levels of former totalitarian states that have had civil… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by CJPh
defaid
defaid
4 months ago
Reply to  CJPh

Sadly, it’s just this kind of domestic abuser’s attack on self-confidence that keeps Wales impoverished. How often I’ve heard Welsh people state that Wales can’t survive without England.

Slovenia would be a much better comparison.

Last edited 4 months ago by defaid
CJPh
CJPh
4 months ago
Reply to  defaid

Probably better, certainly, but who knows? We could (certainly should strive to be) quite a bit more prosperous and happy and secure given a whole host of factors and variables. The deeper philosophical questions never get touched. Why? They have no answers (ignorance seems a better fit than malice – That’s me being charitable).

Arwyn
Arwyn
4 months ago
Reply to  CJPh

I agree with this. I’d be on the liberal, social democrat part of the sbectrum myself. I too find no contradiction in describing myself as Welsh, British and European. Of course all of those contribute a part of my identity. But I don’t conflate my Britishness with the existence of the UK. It’s a broader cultural connection like my Europeanism. My nation is Cymru. And like all nations, we should have the government we vote for. Democratic self-determination is our birthright. And it’s only when we have that, with a constitution to underpin our society, can we be free to… Read more »

CJPh
CJPh
4 months ago
Reply to  Arwyn

Well put. I do, however, see the current, overarching definition of ‘Britishness’ as an attempt to erase the 1st identity – ni’r Cymry (mainly tacit or unthinking – mostly not as deliberate as when it first became an operative cultural term in the 18th century)? As far as a general term of identity, both British and European are geographic for me. I feel just as much kinship with people from South America and sub-saharan Africa as I do Swedes, Slovenes and solicitors from Surrey. But, as you suggest, none of this has any bearing on our sovereignty (or current lack… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by CJPh
Arwyn
Arwyn
4 months ago
Reply to  CJPh

Cytuno, it’s the anglo-Britishness that Gwynfor spoke of. That is the narrative about Britain that needs to be upturned. We are four Nations that share this island, each as British as the other. The fatal flaw of UK Unionism is that it is blind to that plurality, makes the constituent parts subservient to what has now become a radical anglo-British Nationalism. It has come to dominate the shared psychology of the Welsh people as if it were the only possibility. To stand alone appears folly if that is how one thinks. The solution is to undo this Tory induced coma… Read more »

CJPh
CJPh
4 months ago
Reply to  Arwyn

A fasai’n syniad i ddechrau cynllunio am y fath plaid nawr? Y peryg i fi’n rhgweld yw cwympo i system 2blaid fel yn Yr UDA (system digon dda iw efelychu yn fy marn i, ond am y faith taw dim ond 2 dewis sydd)? Wi’n argoeli y fydd gwir pliwraliaeth ymysg y pleidiau sy’n cefnogi annibyniaeth yn rhoi gwell sylfaen (a siawns) i ni ennill ein rhyddid ar y galw gynta. Gwithws yr “1 party solution” ddim i’r Albanwyr.

Richard
Richard
4 months ago

Wow Jeff- well done mate 👀…,,a donation to Nation Cymru now ?

R W
R W
4 months ago

I’m surprised he didn’t say we’d be like North Korea or Afghanistan!! Unfortunately, there are still too many gullible people around who are all too willing to believe the kind of clichéd nonsense that vile Tories like Buckland will keep spouting on about.

defaid
defaid
4 months ago
Reply to  R W

I was just looking at Wikipedia’s table of countries by GDP per capita and wondering why he didn’t suggest Burundi…

We are the poorest in Britain but there’s a very obvious reason for that, one that requires a Secretary of State for Wales…

Richard
Richard
4 months ago
Reply to  R W

You harm your argument by personal and generalised comments based on what ? Pro Europe, pro language, pro devolution and has held elected office here plus proud of his accent – certainly not a fan of ARTD and Co. As “ Governor Generals “ go – the least worst one we might find “ gifted “ to us. We need a good working link between our Gvt here and Westminster during these challenging times for our people.

CapM
CapM
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard

Buckland is like every every Welsh Secretary- Westminster’s man in Wales (in this case overseeing from Swindon) what he is certainly not is Cymru’s man in Westminster.

Richard
Richard
4 months ago
Reply to  CapM

I don’t think the role devised by the Labour Party is that my friend. It is a conduit between the two Gvts….as for whether he is representing Swindon or Swansea makes no difference if you care to look 👀 at the previous holders …indeed perhaps the best person was Peter Walker – Worcester Man .

CapM
CapM
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard

We’ll have to disagree and leave it to the evidence that’s built up over the past half century to speak for itself.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

With horned mines, so yes ‘big balls’ but cowardly with no guts and during the peace in international waters…there were a great many killed and a quick look at the names of the dead reveals that several of them were probably Welsh…Look it up…the Corfu Channel Incident 1946

Last edited 4 months ago by Mab Meirion
CJPh
CJPh
4 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Can we take a moment to appreciate how utterly bizarre this comment seems without the original post above it? Ateb da i gwestiwn uffernol o dwp.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago
Reply to  CJPh

I know, I replied to a post then went for my tea returned and the post was gone…the gist was killing Welsh and English and Scottish sailors in peacetime in international waters with sea mines was somehow a brave thing to do…

CJPh
CJPh
4 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

And, crucially, are WE that brave (!)? 😳

Last edited 4 months ago by CJPh
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago
Reply to  CJPh

Yes, as you say bizarre! I think that yesterday was rather a bizarre day all round. I watched the proceedings unfold with increasing amazement including my own reaction, I felt a strange empathy for the villain of the piece hoping that he would escape his pursuers and cross the border to safety…too many American outlaw movies perhaps although I fear the country is at greater risk from the likes of Raab, Patel, Braverman and Truss…one of those dreams where one cannot find the exit. If you see what I mean… On another matter it is a good year for snakes… Read more »

Glyn Jones
Glyn Jones
4 months ago

Just like what the abuser in a toxic relationship says: “you’ll never survive without me.”
Dic Siôn Dafydd!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

In Australia and Canada etc they call them Governor-General as if they can’t be trusted, here it’s Secretary of State for the same reason I suppose…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

Who remembers Kris Kristofferson and the Silver Tongued Devil it just popped into my mind as I listen to this man on yesterday’s lunchtime news…

What a nice little earner it has been for those Ministers and PPS’s throwing in the towel in the last 48 hours, 17 grand trousered for as little as 36 hours non-work…shake that money tree…Virginia…etc

Quornby
Quornby
4 months ago

Is Johnson Albanian?…… Sorry Albania no offence intended.

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