UK Government’s attempt to ‘override’ will of the people of Wales turning them against the union, Vaughan Gething says
The UK Government’s attempts to override Wales’ devolved powers is driving people to reconsider whethet they want to be part of the union, Vaughan Gething has said.
The Welsh Government’s new Minister for the Economy said that UK Government ministers were mistaken if they thought encroaching on Welsh powers would strengthen the union.
Speaking to the House of Commons’ Welsh Affairs Committee, he said that the UK Government currently had a ‘do as you’re told’ attitude on issues such as freeports and levelling up and needed to reset the relationship.
While he said that he was not someone “who is instantly attracted to independence” he added that “Wales could be an independent country”.
“The UK Government is choosing an argument that I don’t think needs to happen,” he said.
“And I think it’ll promote people to think ‘do we need to be part of this?’ rather than ‘I am glad the union exists’.”
He accused the UK Government of an “imposition” and trying to “override and overrun the settled will of the people of Wales”.
“This is a direct and obvious encroachment on devolved areas and influence,” he said.
“And it almost seems like that was the objective. To those of us that believe in the future of the union as well, it’s really unhelpful.
“To say that the UK Government to cement the union needs to take some of those powers back is a really big mistake. It guarantees unnecessary confrontation.”
‘Win an election’
Vaughan Gething took particular issue with the announcement that EU funding in Wales would bypass Welsh Government and will be distributed directly by Whitehall to councils and other local bodies.
The change means that the Welsh Government will lose the £680m a year it got from the EU, which made up 4% of its budget.
Vaughan Gething said that rather than a strategic regional approach it would lead to the money being spent in an “atomised” way.
“The last thing you want is to have the Welsh Government, created by the people of Wales, in two successive referenda, a government with a new mandate,” he said.
“And straight away there’s an obviously confrontational approach in looking to override devolved powers.
“If UK ministers don’t like the approach of the Welsh Government, the answer isn’t to simply to say let’s ignore the election results of the people of Wales who voted for the Welsh Government.
“If you want to change the Welsh Government, win an election. People have just voted and we’ve got a mandate.
“The answer can’t be that a UK minister in Whitehall says, I don’t like how you’re using your powers so I’m going to change the outcome. That is essentially what is happening.
“There’s been no discussion with us about any of this, and we’re talking about the use of devolved powers here as well.
“If you’re looking for a confrontation it’s a good way to start one.”
The UK Government have said however that the announcement does not directly compromise the devolution settlement.
“The UK Government is stepping up a gear in Wales,” Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said.
“We are accelerating our support for local communities to help them recover from the pandemic, we are bringing the UK Government closer to Wales and we will lead Wales’ recovery into a green industrial revolution of jobs and growth.”
‘Told what to do’
Vaughan Gething’s evidence came after the Welsh Secretary said that he would overrule the Welsh Government if they attempt to block plans for a tax-free free port in Wales.
Some of the tax exemptions freeports use, such as stamp duty, are controlled by the Welsh rather than the UK Government.
But Simon Hart said that the UK Government planned to go ahead with the plan whether the Welsh Government resisted or not.
Vaughan Gething said that “what essentially happened is that we’ve been told what the UK Government is planning to do”.
“The meeting that eventually took place with the Secretary of State for Wales […] wasn’t a serious engagement. ‘Here’s what we think, what are you thinking about?’” he said.
“It was very much, ‘we’re going to do this’. Now that isn’t engagement. It’s a very direct and obvious encroachment on devolved competence.
“There is a view that you will ‘do as your told and use your money to do what we want. That is guaranteed to cause conflict.”
Simon Hart had last week told the House of Commons that it was a “source of some frustration that we have yet to get [freeports] over the line”.
“Now very clearly we would like to do that in collaboration with the Welsh government which is where the blockage currently resides but we can – and if necessary we will – proceed to deliver on our manifesto commitment come what may,” he said.
He added: “It’s a manifesto commitment, the only obstacle standing between us and delivering it is currently Welsh government”.
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The Welsh government t has finally put its foot down against the weakness of a tory government trying to force their wishes on another country.
NEVER TRUST A TORY
You represent literally everything that is bad about Wales with your hate filled myopic views
A very strange response Mark. Beryl made a simple statement of fact in her first para. Then said ‘Never trust a Tory’. Do you consider that hate filled ? I don’t.
The English government, instead of working with Wales and Scotland is taking the age-old stance of domination. If they are trying to avoid a constitutional crisis by this policy this will force people into reacting against their nasty controlling policies. Wales is finally starting to assert the country against the potential injustice of a government which does not understand or care about the people of Wales. NEVER TRUST A TORY
As is to be expected, no? At least the dreaded Tories are identifiable – most, when push comes to shove, would gladly see us stand up for ourselves and cease being (how they see us) a drain on their continued prosperity – see Rishi Sunak’s pre-ministerial-position utterances. It’s th duplicitous, self-serving Sioni and Siani-bob-ochrs we find ‘representing’ our interests at home that worry me. Our history is littered with individuals who sit on the fence, unwilling to state their support for one faction or another until the eleventh hour, then proceed to gleefully stab Cymru in the back for their… Read more »
You do look tired Mr Gething…on our behalf, diolch yn fawr!
How can the English Parliament overrule the Welsh Parliament? This is not a union, it’s an empire. Independence is the only real answer to this.
I think that penny is beginning to drop, even in the mind of Mr Gething. That he is prepared to countenance, however reluctantly, an independent Cymru is progress indeed.
I understand fully those who feel that the Union could work, but for me, it’s been pretty obvious for the past forty years that the best option for Cymru, and any meaningful form of socialism is independence.
The British constitution is not a written constitution. It consists of case law – decisions of judges, statute law – laws made by the English Parliament. The flexibility of this arrangement allows for a certain amount if making the rules up as you go along. Before Devolution, the British state was a Unitary state meaning that one authority – the English parliament is Sovereign and supreme arbiter. This means that the English parliament regards itself as Sovereign over all other legislatures despite the existence of Devolved legislatures in Cymru 🏴 , 🏴 Scotland and Northern Ireland. For example, the Scots… Read more »
Epic Mr Gething, worthy of a possible successor to Mr D
The WG must continue to set itself in opposition to these centralising manoeuvres by Johnson. He will continue to win, because he has possession of the money; but it’s fast becoming a war of attrition, and the Welsh Government mustn’t blink first in terms of opposing it, even if they can only do so verbally. The sad part is that the lack of a national Welsh media, and the fact that the British media are failing to report on the issue, means that most Welsh people are unaware of how their recently-elected government are being humiliated and ignored. A country… Read more »
I wholeheartedly agree with you about our own media Wrexhamian.
I recently had a conversation with a pal from London (who works in the news media); he worried that if media were to devolved to Wales, it’d turn out to be a propagandistic, pro-separation Pravda-style network set to brainwash the masses to sleepwalk into a Maosit Republic. When I countered that it’d more likely be a national broadcaster with editorial oversight from those who understand and live in Wales, allowing for real coverage of Welsh stories and issues and may even allow for actual Welsh history to be discussed widely, he said “Yeah, that’s what I mean”. Now, being far… Read more »
Wow! that is going to take all night to digest…
I wouldn’t worry too much as it contains just about all the empty, meaningless cliches in existence commonly trotted out by the right, (extreme or otherwise) as lazy criticism of the left, (usually about as far left as socially democratic, or in more sane terms, average European political values, often even conservative values) and are in fact constitute the wokeism of the right.
If I’d done PPE it might make sense, so Padi ta for the nod. Glad I did’n’t buy the book…now where did I put my tin hat…
Where exactly is the criticism of the left? It was my pal in London who mischaracterised my support for a devolution of media to Wales as ‘far left’, which as I point out, he himself is. I hold many political positions that are very left – it’s just hard to fully evaluate where exactly I stand given I don’t have a free nation yet. What exactly do you think is a clichéd criticism of the left in my reply? And why would you encourage people not to read something, especially when it seems you’ve fundamentally missed the point yourself. Did… Read more »
I’ve just re-read your piece in light of your defence. Some times less is more I think…like Clogau gold your truth takes some digging but then my lexicon has not been updated for a while…I am however all for a Welsh press free of Reach plc and Trinity Mirror who I suspect are probably under the same roof! Pob hwyl
Wake up Welsh Labour – this is just the beginning – they want an end to devolution. We will need to fight them or our Parliament and country will end up like the Dodo. We need to take the case for independence to the people of Cymru through public consultations, as a people we must now discuss our future before it is too late.
History repeats but with mutations, we will need to be all on the same side…and all pulling the same way. I think the allotment is nearer than some think and looking at the tiredness in Mr Gething’s face he is busting his balls for Wales. I think I heard he is an Aber man which pleases me…the new Capital! Sorry…He says he is a union man but after today I’m not so sure…if the young people knew something of Hanes Cymru we would be in a stronger position. Our history is our WMD where is a Gwyn Alf Williams today.… Read more »
I am capitalist, but if it means we get Indy through the Left, count me in!
“To those of us that believe in the future of the union as well” !! It’s time you stopped believing in it and have the courage to prove you can run an independent country. Can you?
Says it. You see Mr.-Welsh-Secretary- Tory-Simon-Hart-UK- Government…. we have a Welsh Government whose job is to lead Wales’ recovery.
Give more powers to the UK, please as soon as possible – these marxist clowns need to be stopped. They rely on anti english rabble rousing and bribes to their client voters in the valleys. They make Wales an embarassing joke internationally. The English taxpayer pays for all this. There is no tax base in Wales. It is a welfare dependent state – which makes the comments below delusional
Was there a singular inciting incident in your life that made you into the a******e you are today, or was it a gradual transformation like the tidal erosion of one’s soul?