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UK Gov should look to Drakeford to save the union, says ex Whitehall chief

16 Jul 2021 3 minutes Read
Mark Drakeford at the four nation summit. Picture by the Welsh Government.

The UK Government should look to Mark Drakeford to save the union, according to a former Whitehall chief.

Professor Ciaran Martin, who was the constitution director at the Cabinet Office, said if he was advising the UK Government now “would be looking at Wales” for a strategy on “shoring up” the union.

According to the prof, who is one of the UK’s foremost constitution experts, the Welsh Government is both “pro-devolution but it’s profoundly Unionist”.

Martin, now a professor at the University of Oxford, and helped to forge the Edinburgh Agreement, which paved the way for the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, was speaking on the Scotsman’s The Steamie podcast when he made his comments.

Martin told the podcast that he thought Boris Johnson’s Tory government “basically hates” devolution.

Drakeford has attacked the UK Government for acting in an “aggressively unilateral way” which “inevitably creates anger and alienation”.

He pointed to the Internal Market Act which took powers over funding away from the Senedd and centralised them in Westminster as an example of this, and has called for the union to be based on a “partnership of equals”.

‘Wales has a role’ 

Martin said: “The situation in Wales has a role to play. If I was advising the Government now, the UK Government, on its shoring up the Union strategy, I would be looking at Wales.

“This is a profoundly Unionist Labour administration, it’s pro-devolution but it’s profoundly Unionist.

“When you have [First Minister] Mark Drakeford saying ‘this Government doesn’t understand devolution, it’s not comfortable with it, it basically hates it’. A: I think he’s right. And B: If you can’t make devolution work in Wales, the signal there in Scotland is terrible.”

Martin added: “One of the things I think is underpriced in all of this is, it’s very easy to mock and criticise the UK Government for getting Scotland wrong of course, but it doesn’t have, and I’m not criticising the SNP for this, the SNP is a pro-independence party and it makes no secret of that, but it doesn’t have a good-faith partner in making the UK work, but it does in Cardiff.

“[Welsh Labour] may be a political opponent, but it’s a Unionist party, and if they can’t make it work with them, where can they make it work?

“I think that’s why … if the Conservatives, if the muscular Unionist wing of the Conservatives wins out then a Better Together campaign is impossible, because they want two different versions of a No vote.”

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Chris
Chris
3 months ago

He’s probably right. But we don’t WANT to save the Union. It’s rubbish

Quornby
Quornby
3 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Quite right Chris….. let’s not bother.

William Glyn THOMAS
William Glyn THOMAS
3 months ago

Mark Drakeford needs to pick up the mood of the electorate. He has performed well as FM so far. Why doesn’t he acknowledge that being dominated by Westminster is detrimental to the success of Wales in all aspects of life?
I suspect that deep down he wants to go for Independence but is allowing Johnson sufficient rope to “noose” himself.

Quornby
Quornby
3 months ago

If only that were true! Regrettably William the likelyhood learned from history is that Wales will be just as forgotten by Labour as by the Tory gang just as soon as they win power in London. P0wer

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
3 months ago

Do you honestly think the UK Tory government – which is all about control – will bend to the will of what it thinks as a subordinate??? Never ! Hell will sooner freeze over. The Tories will continue on their present course hoping to bully Wales and Scotland into submission. They’ll lose.

Nick Randall-Smith
Nick Randall-Smith
3 months ago

If the Tory assault on devolution continues even avowed anti-nationalist parties such as Welsh Labour and The Welsh LibDems will see that the way to protect our democracy in Wales is through national self-determination. Mr Drakeford may not like nationalism so eventually he may decide to back Welsh Independence and stop propping up isolationist, right wing British nationalism.

Mark Rhydderch-Roberts
Mark Rhydderch-Roberts
3 months ago

If we are looking to Drakeford to save the union it really is in trouble.

Chris
Chris
3 months ago

Maybe we should ask ReTweet 😆😆😆😆😆

Bruce
Bruce
3 months ago

And you think Bojo the Clown is the answer?

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
3 months ago

He is from Omagh so at one remove from British politics but he is a Companion of the Order of the Bath so ell up on the brown-nosing table. He founded and was first Chief Executive of the GCHQ National Cyber Security Centre.
He was appointed by Cameron and May as one of the UK’s “superspooks” and if Johnson ignores what he says he is running a huge risk. This guy knows where all the digital bodies are buried.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
3 months ago

Ciaran Martin is right that Drakeford has given Johnson plenty of warnings about the consequences of the latter’s war on devolution, namely that Westminster will lose its mini-empire. I don’t think Johnson will listen, however. There’s no reason why he can’t continue pressing down hard on devolution until Drakeford caves in and Johnson wins Wales back. He’ll be a lot more careful with Scotland, though, but I have a feeling he thinks Wales is a soft target.

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