‘There may not be UK left for Starmer to be Prime Minister of’ says Drakeford
Mark Drakeford has said that he hesitates before answering people who ask him whether Keir Starmer will be the next Prime Minister – because there may not be an UK for him to be Prime Minister of.
Asked by the Mirror if he thought Mr Starmer would be Labour’s next PM, he said: “I certainly hope so and we will do everything we can to make sure that happens, and the next couple of years will be crucial in that.
But he added: “I will tell you what my hesitation is – that if we are not careful there will be no United Kingdom for him to be Prime Minister of.
“My hesitation is not about whether he can do it, my hesitation is about whether, with the current Prime Minister, the UK can stay together long enough for that to happen.”
He told the paper that the coronavirus crisis, in particular, had thrown independence into the spotlight.
“There is no doubt that the experience of the last 15 months has led people in Wales to ask that question more than ever before,” he said.
“But the results of the election I think are really pretty decisive. People had a choice between a party that wanted to abolish the Assembly and hand Wales back to Westminster – and they didn’t win a single seat.
“And you had a party that, much more than previously, made independence the front and centre of their campaign – and they lost ground.
“Whereas the Labour Party’s message of a strong Wales in a United Kingdom still represents where people in Wales want to be.”
Asked whether he had any advice for the Labour leader after Welsh Labour’s big victory in this month’s Senedd election, he said that they needed to be “authentically Labour”.
“We’re very proud to be Welsh but we are very proud to be Labour,” he said.
“We’re not half-hearted Labour, we’re not shamefaced Labour, Labour that quite wishes we were trying to look a little bit like something else.
“We are authentically Labour, we make an offer that is true to the values, traditions, histories of the Labour Party in Wales.”
He said that Welsh Labour have held focus groups with Labout to Conservative switchers at the 2019 General Election in order to find out what was needed to tempt them back.
“Right from the very beginning the message we had from them was they hadn’t crossed the rubicon never to come back – they had leant their votes to the Tories for very particular reasons,” he said.
“They regarded those reasons as over and they were prepared to come back to Labour – but we needed to convince them to come back to Labour.
“They weren’t going to come back of their own accord, they still needed to know that what we had to offer would be what they would think was important to them.”