Threat of independence not ‘strong enough’ for Westminster to give Wales more power, says German academic
The threat of independence is not yet “strong enough” for Westminster to give Wales more control over its own affairs, a German academic has suggested.
Dr Marius Guderjan of Humboldt-University Berlin said the Welsh Government’s proposals for strengthening the union by devolving more powers to Wales don’t have “any hope” of being accepted by Boris Johnson’s administration.
The lecturer and researcher in British Politics at the Centre for British Studies said that the Conservative government is “hostile” to devolution, and argued that even if there were to be a change in government in Westminster it is “unlikely” to be willing to give up parliamentary “supremacy”.
He also said he was “shocked” by how much power Westminster has taken away from the Senedd with the Single Market Act, whiich “undermines in practice” the decisions that are made in Wales because the Welsh Parliament “have to accept” decisions “that are decided somewhere else”.
He made the comments during a discussion organised by the Deutsch-Britischen Gesellschaft Berlin-Brandenburg forum about Wales’ place in the UK.
The discussion also included Ruth Marks from the Wales Council for Voluntary Action and Dr Ed Poole from Cardiff University.
Dr Guderjan said: “The Welsh Government has proposed various ideas to strengthen joint decision making, and to overcome the notion of parliamentary Westminster sovereignty through kind of a shared multinational understanding of sovereignty and a system of shared governance.
“They proposed in 2019 several measures in a document ‘Reform our Union’ to make the union work in the future, among them was to reform the upper house effectively the House of Lords and give that a more multinational character and representation, to give the Supreme Court a stronger role, to have a constitutional convention to really think through what the constitutional architecture could be in the future.
“To my understanding are still not federal measures in the sense they are not meant to bind the UK Parliament to decisions. There’s still only politically binding, but this kind of idea of having a systematic dialogue and try to stay and create involvement is a step towards a federal system, a federal idea.
‘Don’t think it’s very likely’
He added: “I don’t think it’s very likely to be supported by the UK Government, particularly not under Boris Johnson who has rejected all kinds of demands from devolved legislatures, particularly from the Welsh Government.
“When there’s the notion of hyper or masculine unionism that they portray is actually quite hostile to devolution. I don’t think there’s any hope. They haven’t really taken, acknowledged really these proposals, propositions of the Welsh Government.
“Even if that would change, the UK Government would change, I think it’s unlikely you will find a government which is willing to submit parliamentary sovereignty, supremacy to the Welsh on a kind of binding basis to the devolved legislature. Wales particularly is too small and the threat of independence not yet strong enough to give them a greater say as it is the case for Scotland.”
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