Tory minister dismisses Drakeford call for Welsh ‘Home Rule’
A Tory minister has rejected Mark Drakeford’s calls for Welsh Home Rule.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove dismissed a warning from the First Minister that interest in independence would only rise in Wales unless the UK Government allowed the country a greater measure of self-government.
Gove told the Financial Times that other people might want to “devote some energy to that conversation” and added: “My focus is on the practical.”
He also reiterated the UK Government’s determination to use the powers in the Internal Market Act to bypass the Senedd.
The Welsh Government has condemned the Act as a “power grab” because it takes away powers over spending that were previously devolved and centralises them in Westminster. The Senedd voted overwhelmingly against it but was overruled.
The comments by Gove follow Welsh Labour’s win at the Senedd election where it picked up 30 out of 60 seats.
Its manifesto for the election called for the federalisation of the UK, as well as the devolution of specific powers such as policing and justice.
The Conservatives, running on a platform of greater alignment with the UK Government, only won one additional constituency – while two parties promising to do away with the Welsh parliament altogether failed to pick up any seats.
Gove also revealed he’d he said, spoken with the leaders of the Welsh and Scottish governments following the parliamentary elections on Thursday.
He said: “I’ve had good conversations with the leaders of the devolved administrations.
“Everyone was resolved that the number one priority for the whole of the UK was to build back better and get out of the coronavirus pandemic.”
He added: “We just need to demonstrate how those institutions work to the benefit of all.
“I prefer that we concentrate on people’s priorities rather than looking for new areas of abstract debate to enter into.”
Mark Drakeford told the Financial Times that the result at the Senedd election had given Wales “breathing space” to reform the UK in a way that would give it “genuine stability”.
“We need Home Rule for Wales, more powers, a position where devolution cannot be pulled back by the whim of a prime minister.”
He added that Johnson’s approach was “adding to the stresses and strains that are undoubtedly on the UK”.
He pointed to the UK Government’s Internal Market Act, as an example.
“The action by the UK government to take powers away from Wales . . . is a recipe to turn the interest in independence in Wales into something more fundamental,” he added.