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Scottish Government points to Wales’ treatment as part of the union to justify case for independence

15 Jul 2022 6 minute read
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks at a press conference at Bute House in Edinburgh to launch a second independence paper. Photo Andrew Milligan PA Images

A new paper launched by the Scottish Government has pointed to Wales’ treatment as part of the union in order to justify the case for independence.

The paper Renewing democracy through independence points to the way devolution has been eroded in Wales by the UK Government in order to build the case for a second Scottish independence referendum next year.

The paper launched yesterday by Nicola Sturgeon accused the UK Government of systematically undermining devolution in Wales since the Brexit vote in 2016.

“The Westminster Government’s encroachment on devolution is also being felt in Wales,” the paper says.

“Concerned by the impact of the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 on the competence of Wales’ devolved parliament, the Senedd, the Welsh Government has sought to challenge the actions of the UK Government through the courts, with the Counsel General for Wales seeking permission to take the matter to the UK Supreme Court.

“The issue at stake for the Welsh Government, as it is for the Scottish Government, is for its democratically elected parliament to legislate in devolved areas without interference from the Westminster Parliament and the UK Government.

“The impact of the ‘Westminster sovereignty’ view of the Union on the Scottish Parliament and self-government in Scotland (as well as Wales) is obvious.

“Westminster sovereignty, exercised without restraint, constrains, undermines and destabilises devolution. The Welsh Government has called this ‘grace and favour devolution’ or ‘get what you’re given devolution’.”

‘Rode roughshod’

The paper also pointed to the fact that the Welsh Government, despite being an unionist Labour one, agreed with the SNP Scottish Government’s interpretation that they should be able to leave the union if they wanted to.

“The Scottish Government’s view, shared by the Welsh Government, is that the United Kingdom should be recognised for what it is – a voluntary union of countries,” it said.

“As the Welsh Government has put it, the law should ‘recognise the constitutional and political reality’.”

Pointing to specific examples where the UK Government had sought to roll back devolution, the paper pointed to the fact that it had “recently taken powers to decide unilaterally how to implement certain devolved elements of trade agreements”.

This amounted to “rejecting the view of both the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Senedd that agreement should be required when our devolved responsibilities are affected”.

The paper added that: “In the Scottish Government’s view – a view shared by the Welsh Government – this approach is fundamentally at odds with the devolution settlement, and cannot reasonably be described as ‘not normal’ (in the terms of the Sewel Convention) to justify overriding the views of the devolved parliaments.

“There is therefore every reason to believe that breaches of the Sewel Convention will become more frequent, if the UK Government continues to rely on such justifications to ignore the views of the Scottish Parliament.

“As the Welsh First Minister said in his evidence to the Lords Constitution Committee: ‘When it became inconvenient for the UK Government to observe Sewel, they just went ahead and rode roughshod through it. More recently, I am afraid, the Sewel convention has withered on the vine.'”

‘Clear’

As she launched the paper yesterday, the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the UK was facing a “shift to the right” in politics whoever becomes the next Prime Minister, Nicola Sturgeon said, as she insisted independence was now “essential”.

With the Conservative Party currently in the process of electing a successor to Boris Johnson, the Nicola Sturgeon hit out at the “democratic deficit” facing voters north of the border.

Speaking at her official residence, Bute House in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon insisted: “Offering Scotland the choice of independence, particularly in the context we are in today, is essential.”

As Tory MPs seek to narrow down the candidates vying to be the next party leader and UK prime minister, Ms Sturgeon said that whoever gets the job “the change of Tory leader seems virtually certain to be accompanied by a shift even further to the right”.

This would take Westminster “even further away from the mainstream of Scottish opinion and values”, she added, raising fears of possible cuts to public services and “more posturing over Brexit” in the future.

The First Minister said: “We may be just a few days into this Tory leadership contest but it is already crystal clear the issues Scotland is focused on: tackling child poverty; supporting NHS recovery; building a fairer economy and making a just transition to net zero; will be hindered, not helped, by whoever becomes prime minister in the weeks ahead.”

The Tories have not won an election in Scotland since 1955, but Ms Sturgeon said voters north of the border had “repeatedly” returned a majority of elected representatives who support independence.

Immaterial

However, Nicola Sturgeon said that this was “treated as immaterial” by Westminster, adding: “You don’t have to be a supporter of independence to know that that is not democracy.”

One of Mr Johnson’s last acts before resigning was to formally refuse the First Minister’s request for Holyrood to be granted the power to have a second independence referendum – a ballot Ms Sturgeon wants to be held on October 19 2023.

The UK Supreme Court is now considering if the Scottish Parliament can stage its own consultative ballot.

Whatever happens to that case, the First Minister insisted that Westminster “must not, and will not, be allowed” to block the “right” of Scots “to have our say on independence”.

If a referendum is denied, Ms Sturgeon has set out plans for the next Westminster election to be a “de-facto” ballot on the issue.

She insisted: “While we hope and plan for a referendum, this should also be clear: if a referendum is blocked by Westminster, we will put the choice to the people of Scotland in the general election.

“Either way Scotland will have a choice.”


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The Original Mark
The Original Mark
4 months ago

Well, about time someone said it, if the people can see, Nicola Sturgeon can see it, the tories aren’t hiding what they’re doing, why the hell can’t Welsh Labour acknowledge what’s going on?

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
4 months ago

Nicola Sturgeon is correct in her assessment of the current state of British politics. The Tories are drifting further and further right, while Scotland and Cymru are firmly rooted as left leaning overall. This is not a sustainable position and once again the Tories say one thing and then do another. They say they want to save their precious union, but all their actions drive more and more Celts out the door. Why not just be done with it already and accept the inevitable the UK will break up and the Celtic Nations will all be a part of the… Read more »

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
4 months ago

Nicola Sturgeon is right to use Wales treatment by Whitehall as an impetus for Scottish independence. We are now thanks to Brexit exposed like never before to cultural, economic and human rights attacks by one of the most ugliest English imperialist governments who openly want the return of Westminster direct rule English-size-fits-all by force citing they are sovereign and can take back control. And we currently have the situation where Scotland has mandate by its voters to implement its manifesto pledge that includes a second independence vote, and in Wales voters elected by majority Pro-Devolution parties that want more powers… Read more »

David Harking
David Harking
4 months ago

If the Scots were to vote no again, which I think is likely, it would put Wales one step further from the seemingly insurmountable quest for independence.

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
4 months ago
Reply to  David Harking

They’ve got to get past the supreme court first,

Hell Glibson
Hell Glibson
4 months ago
Reply to  David Harking

Try to think positively, Mr Harking! Let’s just accept that Wales needs independence and will achieve it.

Eifion
Eifion
4 months ago

The funny thing is Scotland get a far better deal from the union than we do but get better backing for independence.

Crwtyn Cemais
Crwtyn Cemais
4 months ago

The Scottish Prime Minister’s claim that the UK is ‘a voluntary union of countries’ is of course quite mistaken. The Scottish Parliament’s 1707 vote for Union with the kingdom of England may provide a convenient fig-leaf of legitimacy. There was no such legitimacy in the way that Wales was brought into Union with the kingdom of England; it was a unilateral decision taken in 1536 by the English Parliament and Monarchy of the time, following centuries of wars, invasions, military occupation, colonisation and discriminatory penal legislation. For Wales, there was nothing ‘voluntary’ about it.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
4 months ago

It’s time Cymru, Alba and Northern Ireland started to work together in the ultimate goal for each country – independence or reunification. By pooling our resources we’ll change things quicker. Welsh Labour has to realise this is now the only path for Cymru – the Union is a busted flush.

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